LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Council unanimously called for the establishment of a national holiday for César E. Chávez, the late leader of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO. The Council also agreed to give employees a paid holiday on Chávez’ birthday March 31.

On April 24 City Councilman Ed Reyes introduced the resolution calling for the federal holiday. The Council put some force behind their call by also agreeing to support the National Holiday Campaign efforts to lobby the Congress to pass this legislation.

Testifying before the Council Evelina Alarcon, national coordinator of the Holiday Campaign, said, “César Chávez loved this city, he spent much time in our communities organizing for economic and social justice for farmworkers and to make our city better. Today his inspirational message of ‘Si, Se Puede’ is a rallying call for labor and justice movements across our nation. He deserves no less than your full support.”

A statement by Julie Chávez-Rodriguez on behalf of Chávez’ family was read to the Council. The family pointed to Chávez’ selfless dedication to improving the life of farmworkers and the community overall. They emphasized that the establishment of a day of service and learning in our nation’s public schools as part of the national holiday, as was done in the California official Chávez holiday, is a fitting tribute to his legacy.

It is estimated that a federal holiday will cost the city $9.578 million but that did not deter the Council members who are well aware that Chávez is revered by millions in Los Angeles.

The city currently acknowledges César Chávez Day on his birthday but recently the Council conceded to the contract demand of half of the city’s employees for a paid holiday on Chávez’s birthday as well. The other half of employees will seek the holiday when their contract comes up soon.

Alarcon said that she expects a paid county holiday to also be placed before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in the future by county unions.

The campaign will seek passage of national holiday resolutions like the Los Angeles one, from cities and elected bodies throughout the nation. For more information on the holiday campaign, contact Evelina Alarcon at EvnAlarcon@aol.com

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