LOS ANGELES (CNS) - César Chávez Day, the state holiday honoring the late labor leader credited with improving work and quality of life conditions for immigrant farm workers in Central California, will be observed today.
Chávez, an advocate of nonviolence, is best remembered for spearheading a grape boycott in 1965 that went nationwide in 1968 and lasted until 1978, resulting in higher wages for farm workers and focusing national attention on their plight.
Born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona, Chávez dropped out of school after the eighth grade to help support his family by joining them in the fields as a migrant farm worker, reflecting the many adversities such workers faced daily.
Chávez joined the Community Service Organization in 1952, urging Latinos to register to vote. He co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 with Dolores Huerta. The union merged in 1965 with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to form the United Farm Workers.
Chávez and the UFW played an instrumental role in the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, which made California the first state to give farm workers the right to seek union representation and bargain collectively within an established legal framework.
“On César Chávez Day, we heed his example: dreaming, persisting, and pursuing justice and dignity for immigrants and workers in L.A. and across America,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted.
Said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California: “César Chávez's legacy reminds us that we have so much more in common than what separates us. As we celebrate what would have been his 92nd birthday, we must recommit ourselves to his mission of lifting up every voice, fighting for fair working conditions throughout the country, and securing basic dignity for all.”
Chávez died in 1993 at age 66.
César Chávez Day is customarily observed on March 31. However, when March 31 falls on a Sunday, as it did this year, it is observed on the following Monday.
Public schools will be closed in observance of César Chávez Day. There will be mail delivery because César Chávez Day is not a federal holiday.
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