Nonunion Whitehall city employees will have two additional holidays in 2019.

Whitehall City Council approved an ordinance Oct. 16 that adds Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day to the list of legal holidays in the city of Whitehall.

"Veterans Day had been recognized in the form of personal-leave hours given to employees to use as they preferred, and the city was always open on Veterans Day if it fell on a Monday to Friday," Mayor Kim Maggard said.

Veterans Day falls on a Sunday this year but will be observed as a state government holiday Monday, Nov. 12, and Whitehall will follow suit if the ordinance is approved.

"Martin Luther King Day was never recognized and I feel this does not reflect the respect that Whitehall citizens have for Dr. Martin Luther King and certainly does not reflect the diversity of our city," Maggard said.

The two new days also are being offered to provide nonunion employees an equal number of holidays as police officers, firefighters, dispatchers and other union-represented employees receive through a collective-bargaining agreement, Maggard said.

The ordinance adds Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day to the list of existing legal holidays in the city that already includes New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

The ordinance also provides the mayor the ability to declare a "special holiday," defined as one not included in the list for "a one-time special purpose."

"I am 100 percent in support of this," City Council President Jim Graham said.

Graham said his support is twofold.

"These are holidays to recognize significant people (and) I believe it is the right thing to do," he said. "One set of employees should not have a benefit others do not. Those who are covered by a (collective-bargaining agreement) have a benefit others do not, and this will bring equality."