Is the Three-Day Holiday a Right?

With government statistics finding that federal workers are ridiculously more well-compensated than their average counterparts in the private sector, there's another reason to join the parade of those bashing our nation's pencil-pushers.

As we prepare to celebrate the new year, those who work for us in the federal government are likely to  enjoy being in the midst of a stretch where they enjoy six paid holidays in the span of a little over three calendar months. Beginning with the observance of Veterans Day on November 11th and closing with Washington's Birthday on February 21st, federal employees enjoy a number of three-day weekends thanks to a statute and executive order penned decades ago.

Regardless of which day of the week holidays traditionally fall on, most public sector employees have a day off carved out for them from the typical workweek. Even with the 2010-11 calendar placing Christmas and New Year's Day on weekends it just wouldn't do to have our public servants miss paid time off work, so those holidays are celebrated on the preceding Friday. This provision for weekend occurrences also affects the newer tradition of celebrating Martin Luther King's birthday, since the January 15th anniversary of his birth falls on a Saturday.

Still, with the exception of that observance and a later change to Veterans Day from a short-term home as the fourth Monday in October, we have followed the federal calendar of Monday holidays for forty years. Prior to 1971, Washington's Birthday and Memorial Day were celebrated on their traditional dates of February 22nd and May 30th, respectively. But while Memorial Day 2011 will be Monday, May 30, the birthday of our first president will fall on a Tuesday, and having a midweek holiday messes up retailers and ski resorts, who love the cash register's jingle on midwinter three-day weekends.