On March 31, hundreds of thousands of supporters of workers’ rights across the country will honor and commemorate the life, work and continuing legacy of César Chávez, who would have celebrated his 80th birthday this year.

The struggle for civil rights and labor protections, including the right to organize, to bargain collectively, to earn livable wages, to have health insurance, pensions and other work-related benefits, has come a long way in the eight decades since Chávez’s birth.

Today, thousands of Latinos have been elected into local, state and national government because of the extraordinary precedent set by Chávez and other leaders who pioneered advances in political representation.

The House of Representatives, with the support of union leaders and workers throughout the U.S., recently passed the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize into unions.

Last spring, millions nationwide took to the streets to demand equal rights for immigrants and to press Congress for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Whole communities are calling on the Bush administration and Homeland Security to stop the raids and deportations of immigrant workers.

Chávez dedicated his life to forging a multiracial movement founded by farmworkers and working-class people that extended beyond the fields into cities and towns in every state. Millions around the world, inspired by César Chávez’s example, are active in the fight for peace, equality and social justice. Peace activists urging an end to the Iraq war, students demanding access to higher education, seniors pressing to uphold and expand Social Security, and patients in need of health care — all are linked to the causes that Chávez proudly supported and for which he put his life on the line.

We will always remember César Chávez and we honor March 31 as César Chávez Day. Let’s keep on fighting! “Sí se puede! La lucha sigue sigue!” (Yes we can! The struggle continues!)

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