I just had the honor of watching a screening of the upcoming feature film "Cesar Chavez" and participating in a panel discussion on his life and work as part of a program hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). The panel included: Director Diego Luna; actress America Ferrera, who plays Helen Chavez in the movie; Cesar's son and President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, Paul F. Chavez; and Members of Congress.
Cesar said many times that if his movement didn't survive his death then his work would be in vain. To that end, his union continues to aggressively help farm workers organize and negotiate new UFW contracts that dramatically change their lives, and win new legal protections.
The UFW negotiated with the nation's growers to create the agricultural provisions of the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate. If the House acts, immigrant farm workers here now could finally earn legal status by continuing to work on farms, thus freeing them from their vulnerability to abuse. This is especially important, as the people who labor in our fields are overwhelmingly Latino and undocumented.
Workers in recent years won UFW contracts with major strawberry, vegetable and tomato growers along with three-fourths of CA's fresh mushroom industry, a dairy giant and Washington state's largest winery. We've also won California laws that let farm workers use neutral mediators when employers refuse to agree to a contract. As a result, thousands more are winning union representation.
President Obama and Secretary Perez just attended an event at a Costco store where they recognized the work that Costco and the UFW are doing together across the nation to help increase farm worker wages.
The Cesar Chavez film gives us the unique opportunity to reach millions of good people who don't think about where their food comes from -- or about the men, women and children who produce it. It opens the weekend of March 28 in 100 markets and 300 theaters. Please help us turn people out to fill these theaters.
In conjunction with the film, a petition has been launched urging President Obama to declare March 31 as the Cesar Chavez National Day of Service, which we are proud to support. While Cesar refused most personal awards, he would feel differently about a day of service--a day to do for others. Please sign the petition today at @ http://www.takepart.com/chavez.
Si Se Puede!