DENVER─ In anticipation of today’s César Chávez Day, Senator Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) honored the life and work of Chávez this week by co-sponsoring a Senate Joint Resolution sponsored by Senator Bob Bacon (D-Fort Collins). This resolution honors the achievements of César Chávez, a migrant farm worker who dedicated his life to improving conditions for workers like himself. Through nonviolent tactics, César Chávez fought for a safer working environment, created unions for farm workers, formed the United Farm Workers of America, and successfully helped pass the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, groundbreaking legislation that protected the rights of farm workers.
César Chávez was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton, the highest civilian honor in the United States, and has inspired millions of citizens to seek social justice and equal rights. César Chávez died in 1993, and is now renowned as a champion of workers’ rights, justice and equality.
Below is the full text of the Senate’s CÉSAR CHÁVEZ DAY resolution:
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 12-027 - CONCERNING RECOGNITION OF "CÉSAR CHÁVEZ DAY"
WHEREAS, César Estrada Chávez was born on March 31, 1927, on a small farm near Yuma, Arizona, and was raised by migrant farm workers; and
WHEREAS, In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, like so many others, César Chávez's father lost his small farming business, and the family became migrant workers and joined some 30,000 workers who followed the crops from Arizona into southern California; and
WHEREAS, César Chávez left school after the eighth grade to labor in the fields and vineyards of the Southwest to help support his family; and
WHEREAS, In 1944, at the age of 17, César Chávez joined the Navy and served in World War II; and
WHEREAS, After experiencing years of discrimination and unfair working conditions, César Chávez dedicated his life to improving the plight of farm workers through struggle, sacrifice, and self-denial; and
WHEREAS, César Chávez formed his own organization in 1962, the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), to help farm workers like himself win equal rights and fair treatment; and
WHEREAS, In 1965, César Chávez led a strike of California grape pickers to demand higher wages and urged all Americans to boycott table grapes as a show of support; and
WHEREAS, César Chávez believed in the principles of nonviolence practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and used tactics such as boycotts, marches, strikes, and fasts to lead a successful five-year boycott that gained millions of members and supporters for farm labor unions across the United States; and
WHEREAS, By 1970, César Chávez and the UFW had persuaded grape growers to accept union contracts and had successfully organized almost the entire industry; and
WHEREAS, During a fast in 1972, César Chávez coined the phrase "Si, se puede", which in English means "Yes, it can be done”, reflecting his conviction that failure happens only by giving up on nonviolent tactics; and
WHEREAS, In 1975, César Chávez and the UFW's efforts resulted in the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, a groundbreaking law protecting the right of farm workers to unionize; and
WHEREAS, César Chávez tirelessly devoted himself to making all people aware of the struggles of farm workers and their need for better pay and safer working conditions; and
WHEREAS, César Chávez and the organization he cofounded with Dolores Huerta, the UFW, achieved the following:
The first collective bargaining agreement between farm workers and growers in the continental United States; and
The first union contracts requiring rest periods, clean drinking water, hand washing facilities, and protective clothing against pesticide exposure; and
The first ban on pesticide spraying while workers were in the fields and the first ban on DDT and other dangerous pesticides; and
The first and only performing pension plan for retired farm workers; and
The first union contracts regulating safety and sanitary conditions in farm labor camps and banning discrimination in employment and sexual harassment of female workers; and
Abolition of the use of the infamous short-handled hoe that crippled generations of farm workers; and
Extension of state coverage under unemployment, disability, and workers' compensation to farm workers; and
WHEREAS, On April 23, 1993, César Estrada Chávez died peacefully in his sleep in San Luis, Arizona; and
WHEREAS, In 1994, President Bill Clinton posthumously awarded César Chávez the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States; and
WHEREAS, César Chávez influenced and inspired millions of Americans to seek social justice and civil rights for the poor and disenfranchised in our society; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the Senate of the Sixty-eighth General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the House of Representatives concurring herein:
That we, the members of the General Assembly, honor a man who devoted his life to improving the working conditions, safety, and dignity of so many on the day that the entire state observes as "César Chávez Day", March 31, 2012.
Be It Further Resolved, That copies of this Joint Resolution be sent to former State Representative Frana Mace; former State Representative Fran Coleman; former State Senator Rob Hernandez; former State Senator Abel Tapia; each member of Colorado's congressional delegation; Dolores Huerta of the Dolores Huerta Foundation; Dr. Ramón Del Castillo, cofounder of the César Chávez Peace and Justice Committee and Professor and Chair of the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at Metropolitan State College of Denver; Woodbury Library in Denver; the members of the Pueblo City Council; Cesar Chavez Academy in Pueblo; Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; and the members of the Denver City Council, in recognition of their efforts to promote "César Chávez Day".