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Friday, August 19, 2022


V.I. government workers will enjoy six consecutive days off starting Wednesday, thanks to back-to-back Transfer Day and Easter holidays.
Transfer Day, which commemorates the transfer of the islands from Denmark to the United States in 1917, is Wednesday. That is followed by Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday bracketing the weekend in between.
Non-essential employees have all of those official V.I. holidays off. Essential employees must work.
How much do these holidays cost V.I. taxpayers for overtime pay for the essential workers? No one seems to have a handle on it.
Calls to officials in the Finance Department, the Office of Management and Budget and the Legislature's post audit division produced no firm figure — or even a guess. Traditionally, the figure used was $600,000 per holiday but no officials would say whether that is still valid.
Banks in the territory will all close on Good Friday, and some will also close Saturday.
Chase Manhattan Bank, for example, will be closed on Good Friday but open Saturday. Bank of Nova Scotia, a Canadian bank, will be closed Friday and Saturday.
One 32-year employee of Finance, who asked not to be named, said it is hard to tally the cost of these holidays because each department has its own contracts.
"Overtime is based on the provisions of the union contracts," this person said. "Most, I think, make double time but for some it is time and a half."
Some departments with essential employees are Police, Public Works, Health and Fire Services.
A former OMB official said calculating holiday costs is "tricky" because fire fighters, for instance, "work shift work and so it depends on what shift the holiday falls whether firemen get overtime. A lot of the higher level employees don't get paid overtime at all. They get compensatory time instead, making it even harder to tally the cost to the government."
But at least one person is trying to figure out the cost of the upcoming holidays. Pamela Rabsatt, assistant to Rudolph Krigger Sr., who is financial assistant to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, said late Monday she had requested the figures and was committed to having them available "in the morning." She said Krigger wanted to review the figures before they were released.
Unionized government workers are currently owed $200 million in retroactive wages going back nearly seven years, according to Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council.
The government payroll currently stands at an estimated $15 million dollars bi-weekly, according to Campbell Malone, the Legislature's post auditor.

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