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What a difference a year makes. While the Bush White House tried to thwart workers’ rights and all that the late César Chávez fought for, Barack Obama adopted Chávez’s rallying cry as his campaign theme.

Today, on what would have been Chávez’s 82nd birthday, President Obama issued a statement hailing the former Farm Workers president as “an educator, environmentalist, and as a civil rights leader who struggled for fair treatment and fair wages for America’s workers.”

Chávez’s rallying cry, “Sí Se Puede”—”Yes, We Can,” was more than a slogan, it was an expression of hope and a rejection of those who said farm workers could not organize, and could not take on the growers. Through his courage, César Chávez taught us that a single voice could change our country, and that together, we could make America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation.

The AFL-CIO is supporting efforts to create a national holiday to honor Chávez. Last year during the presidential campaign, Obama said we should have a holiday for Chávez.

It’s time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union.

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