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20 Jun, 2020 00:22

Holiday or not? Elon Musk gives Tesla & SpaceX employees Juneteenth off… kind of

Holiday or not? Elon Musk gives Tesla & SpaceX employees Juneteenth off… kind of

Elon Musk announced that June 19 – also known as ‘Juneteenth’ – will be treated as a holiday for Tesla and SpaceX workers, quickly earning an outpouring of praise… until people found out the vacation wouldn’t be paid.

“Juneteenth is henceforth considered a US holiday at Tesla & SpaceX,” Musk tweeted on Friday, quickly racking up 225,000 likes and 22,000-plus retweets.

June 19 has long been celebrated by the African-American community, marking the date in 1865 when Union troops in Galveston, Texas announced that all the slaves have been set free. It has gained in recognition and popularity this year in the light of Black Lives Matter protests across the US.

Musk basked in the praise over his gesture for slightly over half an hour, at which point someone thanked him for “providing a paid holiday” and the eccentric billionaire felt the need to clarify that actually, the employees would have to use up their paid time off.

While far fewer people saw the clarification, those that did were not amused, instantly turning on Musk for calling it a “holiday” when it, well, wasn’t.

Musk’s explanation that many other “holidays” also required the use of PTO didn’t seem to make a difference. There were even calls for him to “read the room” and “redistribute” his wealth – presumably to atone for the sin of American slavery, though he had immigrated as a youth from South Africa. 

Some cynics pointed out that Musk had made the announcement after most employees at Tesla and SpaceX would have already reported for work.

Ironically, Musk’s Juneteenth announcement seems to have been formulated much like President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves only in those US states “the people whereof shall then be in rebellion” – meaning the Confederacy, over which he had no control. 

Slavery actually ended with the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, in December 1865, eight months after the Confederacy surrendered.

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