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Monday, May 14, 2007

Oregon AFL-CIO agrees to new state holiday

Chávez Day will adjust meaning of Independence Day

Portland City commissioner Erik Sten and Oregon's acting Gov. Tim Nesbitt announced today that government, business and labor leaders have agreed on a new statewide holiday that will turn Oregonians' celebration of two Peoples' Independence movements into a first-in-the-nation 4-day or 5-day weekend.

The new holiday is Hugo Chávez Day, marking the July 28, 1954 birthdate of Venezuela president Hugo Chávez.

Sticklers will note that July 28 falls on a Saturday and July 4 on Wednesday this year. But thanks to a quirky calendar and an even quirkier, complex mathematical formula designed by a retired statistical and elections specialist from OSU, Oregonians will celebrate Chávez Day on Monday and Tuesday, July 2-3 this year.

That will create a first-in-the-nation 5-day "Chávez Day-Fourth of July" weekend.

In years when the 4th of July falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, Chávez Day will be celebrated either the Monday before, or the Friday after. This scenario will create a 4-day weekend.

Amendments were still being drafted, but Our Oregon spokesperson Patty Wentz said that even if the 4th falls on another day of the week, there will be no scenario in which Chávez Day will create less than a 4-day weekend.

French political consultants were said to be in Salem examining the new law - expected to be signed by acting Gov. Nesbitt in a ceremony slated later this week - to determine if they ought to work the issue into this month's legislative campaigns that are crucial to preventing new President Nicolas Sarkozy from implementing far-ranging pro-market reforms, as mandated last week when voters resoundingly rejected Sarkozy's Socialist-Labor rival, Sergolene Royal.

Thanks to an emergency provision in the enabling legislation, the holiday will be immediately incorporated into existing collective bargaining agreements between state and local governments and their government unions. That will mean that the new Chávez Day(s) holiday will be fully-paid, including PERS other non-PERS employee retirement benefits.

The Oregonian, May 14, By EDWARD WALSH

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