“Si Se Puede” – Honoring the legacy of Cesar Chavez
On March 31 we honor the heroic and pioneering achievements of Cesar Chavez, the labor leader and civil rights activist who changed the landscape for farm workers by securing raises and improving working conditions in the fields of California, Texas, Arizona and Florida.
Chavez used the rallying cry, “Si Se Puede” (Yes, We Can) to organize and engage farmworkers, and it’s as relevant today to the represented members of Local 1000.
Working with another prominent labor pioneer, Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).
Building on his early experiences as a migrant farm worker, he used non-violent tactics and a public campaign to make the farm workers’ struggle of low wages and harsh working conditions a moral cause, which gained nationwide support.
He organized several grape boycotts, encouraging consumers to join the fight for better wages and working conditions and applying pressure to growers.
He also organized a 110-mile march through California’s Central Valley in 1974 to bring attention to the cause. Starting with a few hundred workers, more than 15,000 joined the march to the E & J Gallo winery in Modesto.
Chavez was responsible for the first collective bargaining agreements for farm workers, which included dramatic changes in working conditions as well as the first-ever health and pension plan offered to farm laborers.
Chavez died in 1993, leaving a legacy of social and economic justice for all of us.