A leader is someone who has a vision and mission and inspires others to follow. Last Sunday, March 31, we celebrated a labor leader whose vision and mission was forged from the same inspiration and idealism as the founder of the California School Employees Association, Bill Schwarz.
Cesar Chavez was and still is an inspiration to continue fighting for worker rights more than 25 years after his death. We remember this great leader and celebrate his legacy every March 31, as we observe the anniversary of his birth.
Chavez was born near Yuma, Arizona. on March 31, 1927. He would be 92. He and his family worked the fields of California from Brawley to Oxnard, Atascadero, Gonzales, King City, Salinas, McFarland, Delano, Wasco, Selma, Kingsburg and Mendota. He studied civil disobedience and nonviolence, eventually becoming an organizer for the Community Service Organization, where he worked on voter registration projects. In 1962, Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).
By 1970, the UFW got grape growers to accept union contracts and had effectively organized most of that industry. Chavez's tireless leadership and non-violent organizing actions brought national attention to the working conditions of farm workers. His persistence, hard work, faith and willingness to sacrifice helped farm workers earn collective bargaining rights and are why Chavez was one of the labor movement’s most influential leaders. Let us all remember Cesar Chavez not as just another day off but a day to remember and celebrate a fellow union brother whose efforts improved lives of tens of thousands and advanced the labor movement.