JPMorgan, PNC, Comerica are latest to declare Juneteenth a holiday

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The list of banks observing the date that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States keeps growing.

On Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Financial Services and Comerica announced they will close all or parts of their businesses early this Friday to observe the 155th anniversary of June 19, 1865, the date that Union Army members arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans they were free and the Civil War had ended. In honor of what's now called Juneteenth, the banks join an ever-expanding number of American businesses, including Fifth Third Bancorp and Capital One Financial, choosing to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday this year, in response to sweeping calls across the nation for racial equality and justice.

JPMorgan, the largest bank in the nation with $3.1 trillion of assets, said it will close all Chase branches at 1 p.m. local time Friday and pay employees for a full day. Hourly employees who work in core functions and must come in will receive an additional four hours of pay that day, while nonbranch employees, depending on their roles, will also have the opportunity to end their workdays early.

Details on who among nonbranch workers will be permitted to leave early and how or if they will be paid for a full day of work were not immediately available.

“Juneteenth celebrates African American emancipation and freedom,” Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said in a memo sent Wednesday to the New York-based bank’s U.S. employees. “Closing the branches enables many of our colleagues to join in the celebration and reflect on not only America’s achievements, but also its enduring effort to acknowledge its flaws and become a better nation.”

The observance of Juneteenth by banks and across industries marks a sea change in the way that U.S. companies are approaching the date. June 19 is marked as a holiday or observance in 46 states, but never before has it been as widely recognized by corporate America as it is this year amid weeks of widespread protests condemning racism.

Some firms are giving employees a paid day off or, like several banks so far, closing offices early. Others are offering daylong or weeklong educational outreach events for employees.

The $412.4 billion-asset PNC in Pittsburgh and the $76.3 billion-asset Comerica in Dallas will close all offices and branches at 2 p.m. local time Friday. Meanwhile, BMO Harris Bank in Chicago said late Tuesday that it will close its branches at noon Friday.

The three banks will pay employees for the full day.

The $145.2 billion-asset BMO Harris, a unit of BMO Financial Group in Toronto, also pledged $1 million to organizations that support social and racial justice and inclusion including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

The $69 billion-asset City National Bank in Los Angeles, a unit of Royal Bank of Canada, also said this week that it will donate $400,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Late Wednesday, the $13.2 billion-asset Berkshire Hills Bancorp announced it would give many of its employees the day off with pay. Branch employees will work until 2 p.m. Friday when the offices close and will receive a paid floating holiday in exchange for working that day, a spokeswoman said.

The Boston-based bank recently hosted a panel of civil rights leaders to brainstorm ways banks can foster economic opportunity and plans to hold training for managers that focuses on how to create safe and inclusive spaces for employees.

This story has been updated to include Berkshire Hills Bancorp's Juneteenth plans.

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Diversity and equality Workforce management JPMorgan Chase BMO Harris Bank PNC Financial Services Group Comerica Bank
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