Firefighters Entitled To Holiday For “National Day of Mourning” For President Reagan

A case involving two presidents and a would-be president resulted in firefighters working for the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts receiving an additional holiday in 2004. When President Reagan died in 2004, President Bush declared June 11, 2004 as a “national day of mourning.” Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney issued an executive order that established June 11 as a day to honor President Reagan. Governor Romney’s executive order did not designate the day as a holiday.

Local 1491 of the International Association of Fire Fighters filed a grievance against the Town of Lexington, contending that the actions of President Bush and Governor Romney resulted in members of Local 1491 being entitled to an additional holiday. An arbitrator upheld Local 1491’s grievance.
The Arbitrator reasoned that while President Bush’s actions did not explicitly declare a national holiday, federal courts had addressed the issue and had determined that the “national day of mourning” was the equivalent of a holiday for federal purposes. The Arbitrator stated: “This Arbitrator believes that he is obligated to follow those judicial decisions in this case even though they may not be binding in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

By way of remedy, the Arbitrator ordered the Town to compensate all members of Local 1491 with holiday pay for June 11, 2004.

Town of Lexington, Massachusetts and International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1491, LAIG 6440 (O’Brien, 2006).

This article appears in the June 2007 issue