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Home / farm workers

César Chávez Day: Demonstrators back farm workers bill in downtown LA

About 200 people demonstrated in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday in connection with César Chávez Day in support of a bill to allow farm workers to vote by mail in union elections, organizers said.

The 4 p.m. demonstration at the intersection of César E. Chávez Avenue and Alameda Street in support of AB 2183 was organized by the UFW Foundation, an advocacy group and immigration legal services provider associated with the United Farm Workers union which Chávez co-founded.

The foundation has supported such causes as liberalizing immigration laws, pesticide protections, heat standards, hazard pay and other worker protections.

Chávez 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 UFW.

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.

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.

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, witnessing the many adversities those workers faced daily.

Chávez died in 1993 at age 66.

“César fought for fair treatment, fair wages and better working conditions for the countless men and women and children who labor in the fields every day,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said in 2011 when she led the U.S. Department of Labor.

“César was a man who with quiet leadership but a powerful voice inspired a movement and changed the course of America for generations to come.”

Then-Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation in 2000 making César Chávez Day a state holiday.

State offices and schools will be closed but Los Angeles County and city offices and libraries will be open because those jurisdictions marked the holiday on Monday.

There will still be mail delivery because it is not a federal holiday.

In his proclamation declaring Thursday César Chávez Day, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “Throughout his life of work and service, César Chávez empowered thousands to stand together for their rights and led our nation toward a more equitable and just society.

“His visionary leadership inspired a powerful movement that burns brightly to this day, rallying people from all walks of life to champion the dignity of work.”

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