Council Members discuss making MLK Day a paid city holiday - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Council Members discuss making MLK Day a paid city holiday


Community members are pressing Sioux City city leaders to make Martin Luther King Junior's birthday a paid holiday.

Monday night's discussion centered on the cost to city tax payers, and the value of recognizing the slain civil rights leader's accomplishments.

Every third Monday in January, Siouxlanders sing their praises of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior.  He's honored in churches, community centers, and in the classroom.  But, some say, too many people are being left out.

"A lot of people who work for the city cannot participate because they have to work," Monique Scarlett told council members.

Monday, members of the community, including the NAACP, implored city leaders to change the holiday policy and allow all city employees to have the day off.

"Martin Luther King Junior was a champion for human rights in general, and definitely not for NAACP rights," said resident Mike Wood.

"We gave up President's Day long ago, and I support that decision," Community Action Agency Executive Director Jean Logan told the council.

"In Iowa, four cities have already chosen to take that step," added NAACP Vice President Ike Rayford.

The move would cost money, at least $154,000 to give city workers a paid holiday.  Council woman Rhonda Capron said that's something the city can't afford to do.  Instead, she suggested a city sponsored celebration.

"What better way to be recognized is to make it a day," Capron explained.

Three of Sioux City's unions have already traded in one of their floating holidays for Martin Luther King Junior's birthday.  The city has proposed that members of their largest union, AFSCME, trade in President's Day.  However, members have turned that idea down.

"Our folks have made it very clear that honoring the past and current presidents of this country is very important," said Local 61 Representative Preston DeBoer.

The city's mayor worries that giving AFSCME employees an extra holiday will create a domino effect with the city's other unions that will cost taxpayers.

"It's time to do the right thing.  Yes, it'll cost a little money.  However, Dr. King was worth a little money," said NAACP Treasurer Dick Hayes.

The council didn't take any action on the issue, Monday. 

Paid holidays are part of union contracts, which were just approved this year.  Negotiations won't start again until 2016.

However, DeBoer said employees would be open to renegotiating sooner, if the city offered them an extra paid holiday.


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