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César Chávez Day Observed Tuesday

Cesar Chavez, the head of the United Farm Workers Union, calls for the resign...

Photo by AP

Above: Cesar Chavez, the head of the United Farm Workers Union, calls for the resignation of Walter Kintz, the first legal counsel for the state Agriculture Labor Relations Board, in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 16, 1975. Chavez's efforts in California culminated in landmark legislation that protected the rights of the state's farmworkers and created the ALRB.

César Chávez Day, the state holiday honoring the late labor leader credited with improving work and quality of life conditions for immigrant farmworkers in Central California, is being observed Tuesday on the 93rd anniversary of his birth.

Chávez, an advocate of nonviolence, is best remembered for spearheading a grape boycott in 1965 that went nationwide in 1968 and lasted until 1978, resulting in higher wages for farmworkers and focusing national attention on their plight.

Born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona, Chávez dropped out of school after the eighth grade to help support his family by joining them in the fields as a migrant farmworker, witnessing the many adversities these workers faced daily.

Chávez joined the Community Service Organization in 1952, urging Latinos to register to vote.

He co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 with Dolores Huerta. The union merged in 1965 with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to form the United Farm Workers.

Chávez and the UFW played an instrumental role in the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, which made California the first state to give farmworkers the right to seek union representation and bargain collectively within an established legal framework.

He died in 1993 at age 66.

Then-Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation in 2000 creating the state holiday.

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