In two more days we will celebrate Columbus Day---- or not! I don't remember any controversy as a child. Columbus Day was to commemorate the discovery of America by Columbus. It never seemed to enter anyone's mind that it's hard to "discover" something that is already inhabited by a million people.
The distinction became very clear in our household when Carolyn was working for the Washoe Tribe TANF program. Native Americans or Indians generally see Columbus as the first in a long line of invaders bent on destroying a civilization and committing genocide. Why should we celebrate that?
This year our household is again seeing a tug-of-war regarding this holiday. Governor Schwarzenegger has decreed that Columbus Day is not a day off for all state workers. State offices already reeling from 15% salary and workhour cutbacks cannot afford additional time off according to our Governor.
Service Employees International Union Local 1000 see it as a contract issue. Currently they don't have a contract with the state because the old one expired and the Governor has opposed the one that was hammered out in negotiations between the state and the union. Apparently the Governor hasn't read the old contract which cleaerly states that in the absence of a replacement contract all the provisions of the old contract continue to apply. That means Columbus Day is still a holiday for SEIU employees.
With the union telling them to stay home and their personnel department telling them they must go to work, many state employees are puzzled as what they should do. Personally, I think the union has the stronger case. In any case, we will soon find out just how strong the union is and how people feel about Columbus Day.