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Labor Demonstrators Commemorate Cesar Chavez Day

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Aired 4/19/09

(Photo by Alison St John/KPBS.)

To mark Cesar Chavez Day, hundreds of labor union demonstrators in red tee-shirts marched through downtown San Diego to draw attention to labor battles in the region. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

The labor demonstrators credit the San Diego Convention Center for offering jobs with good wages and benefits. But they made five stops elsewhere to protest low wages and benefits.

Outside San Diego City Hall , where some unionized city jobs may soon be outsourced to the private sector, labor leader Joan Raymond rallied the crowd. 

Joan Raymond : As Cesar Chavez said, the fight is never about the grapes or the lettuce, it is always about the people, this fight is about the women and the men who work hard for the citizens of San Diego.

Everyone in the crowd with a cell phone called the mayor and city attorney to protest layoffs and attempts to roll back pension benefits. 

City worker Larry Field says his city pension isn't enough to retire on in San Diego.

Larry Field: I got 25 years in the city, and I can't afford to stay in the city where my parents still live and grew up; they're 93 years old and we can't stay and watch over them because we can't afford to stay in the city of San Diego if I was to retire.

The demonstrators also stopped at the site of a new hotel on the waterfront to lobby for livable wages for workers in the booming visitors industry. Alison St John, KPBS News.

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