Action #1: Volunteer in your community in honor of “Cesar Chavez Day.”
- What is Cesar Chavez Day? Cesar Chavez was a prominent leader for civil rights, farmworkers, community organizing, and more. Born in 1927 as a first-generation American, Chavez began working in the fields full time to help support his family after completing the eighth grade. Being exposed to the injustices of farm worker life, he would later go on to found the National Farm Workers Movement Association in 1962. Today, this is known as the United Farm Workers of America, which has made long strides for farm workers.
- How is his work still relevant? While Chavez brought great awareness and made progress for farmworkers, farmworkers continue to face hardships and injustices in their work and conditions. The California Streetsblog posted a great article this time last year as the pandemic was just beginning, highlighting the thankless work that farmworkers do every day – providing us with food to eat.
- Finally, learn about Chavez’s connection to Ventura County from Dr. Frank Barajas at CSUCI.
- So, how can you honor Cesar Chavez this year? Get involved! Here are some great opportunities to engage with near you:
- In person:
For more information and history about Chavez’s legacy, check out these resources from the Cesar Chavez Foundation and United Farm Workers. For more information and/or questions about VVC opportunities, email Francesca at email@example.com.
Action #2: Call your senators to vote “YES” on UFW-supported H.R. 1603 – the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a long-delayed “thank you” for the essential workers who bring us our food.
(This bill passed the HOUSE on 3/18/21)
A berry worker traveled from the Salinas-area to Washington DC to campaign for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This essential worker asked lawmakers to consider that “Farmworkers need immigration reform so they can work in the fields without fear.” Fear – hardwired into the fruits and vegetables we enjoy quietly in our homes. Do better, America. This is a problem we can solve.
[Source: United Farm Workers]
Minimal Script: Hello, I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Sen. [___] to vote “YES” on H.R. 1603 – the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which supports a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans working in agriculture, young aspiring Americans, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. Thank you.
- Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
- and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787,Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
- Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com
A history note…
You may read that Chavez was not always a supporter of citizenship for people without documentation, as he initially viewed them as potential strikebreakers for management. However, that’s not the end of the story. Over time, he came to see that those workers were “doubly exploited, first because they are farm workers, and second because they are powerless to defend their own interests.” Ultimately, he “promised that United Farm Workers would support legalization for the undocumented, “our brothers and sisters.”
Like much of the U.S. labor movement, the UFW and its allied organizations today support undocumented workers, especially DACA recipients.
“These days, protecting undocumented and seasonal workers is a fundamental part of (UFW’s) mission. This requires both organizing in the fields and playing politics in the halls of power. Most recently, it was instrumental in negotiating the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA)…”
The current version which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 18 and now moves to the U.S. Senate. If the bill becomes law, it would provide a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented farmworkers.”
States the New Americans Campaign: “Chávez worked for the benefit of others. He believed that all human lives should be treated with dignity and longed for the day that justice and fairness would become a reality for all Latinos.
What does all this have to do with citizenship?
As we think about Chávez’s impact today, his birthday, we can’t help but imagine the contributions people would be able to make in their communities by becoming U.S. citizens. Being a citizen grants you voting rights, and voting gives you the opportunity to make your voice heard by selecting candidates that you think will best represent you, your family and your community.
Becoming a citizen can engage you in the work César Chávez started and can give you the opportunity to be a part of the community he dreamed of creating.“