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  Cesar Chavez

March 29 was UFW labor leader Cesar Chavez' birthday. The occasion was celebrated with a march from Oak Park to the state Capitol, where Aztec dancing and speeches commemorated the life of this great social activist.

How do you celebrate someone whose defining feature is that he spent his whole life working nonviolently for social change? Should the focus be on what he accomplished-- organizing farmworkers and founding the UFW-- or should the focus be on continuing the work that Chavez started-- building a more just society and raising the dignity and living standards of low-wage workers?

The communities marching for Cesar Chavez answered this question variously, but all were united in respect for Chavez' accomplishments and vision. The Latino community was there in force, and many labor unions were represented. Both these groups intersected with the Peace and Social Justice community, and included City Councilmembers Dave Jones and Lauren Hammond, advocates for Living Wage, and many persons calling for an end to the war on Iraq.

  The march down Broadway was colorful, the UFW red and black being displayed by both Chavez celebrants and the Sacto Police. A painting of Cesar Chavez radiates serenely above the marchers.


  SEIU Local 250 Healthcare workers' union carrying signs celebrating Cesar Chavez and denouncing the war on Iraq. For the recently-organized Local 250 members, Cesar Chavez' goal of "organizing the unorganized" has special meaning, as does his policy of non-violence in advocating social change. And as healthcare workers, the war on Iraq poses not only the usual peace/war ethical questions, but the healthcare questions of "Where are those billions of war dollars coming from?" and "Wouldn't that money be better spent on things like overhauling the system of healthcare provision in this country?" And then there's the question of the smallpox vaccine, which never came up until this war.....



Sacramento City Councilmember Dave Jones present at the Cesar Chavez march and Very Present in the campaign to make Sacramento a Living Wage city. A coalition of Labor and Social Justice groups have united to pass this ordinance that would require employers who contract with the city for over $25,000 (and have at least 15 employees) or who receive at least $100,000 in city economic development money to pay workers $10/hour w/benefits or $12.84 without.

Councilmember Jones has led the way on this issue at the City Council. Is he continuing in the spirit of Cesar Chavez? We say "YES!" "Si se puedes!"



  "Marley" of "Poodles For Peace" participated in the march. When asked how long Marley had supported the peace effort, , his human companion said "He was born supporting peace-- he's a French poodle!"


  SEIU Local 1000 members Paul Gonzales-Coke, DLC 790 President, and Al Rojas, Cesar Chavez march organizer.
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