Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/18/2010 07:18:42 PM PST

Established as a national holiday in 1983 and first formally observed in 1986, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is one day where many government workers across the nation don’t need to work.

State offices close in honor of the civil-rights icon, and so do many county and city jurisdictions. But some local governments don’t close for the holiday.

Highland and Chino in San Bernardino County, along with Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County, are three cities that remain open the third Monday of January.

“It is a disappointment that they didn’t honor the observance,” said Chuck Singleton, pastor of Loveland Church in Rialto. “I wouldn’t accuse them of being bigoted, but perhaps not being sensitive enough and not realizing the impact that the decision could have on a worker.”

Highland, Chino and Diamond Bar all close their doors for national holidays like Presidents Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. They’re open on King’s holiday and let employees decide if they will work or not, officials from each city said. Employees are allotted floating holidays, a paid day off that can be used at their discretion.

Each city is different: Highland offers three floating holidays, Chino offers 31/2 and Diamond Bar two, city officials said.

Highland Councilwoman Jody Scott says the city established its holiday schedule when it was incorporated in 1987. The system is fine because employees have the option of taking the holiday off, she said. Government workers should not be entitled to more time off than private- sector employees, who are less likely to get King’s holiday off, she said.

“I’m fairly disgusted with government entities,” Scott said. “Every time you turn around, you get employees that are getting a paid day for doing nothing. You don’t get that in the private sector. We’re already closed every Friday, and if they want to close another day I’m going to raise Cain.”

Although employees have the option of taking the day off if they wish, Singleton argues it should be treated the same as other national holidays so employees don’t feel any pressure to work that day.

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