Skip to Main Content

Triton College Library Website: Library Blog

Celebrating César Chávez Day

by River Seiler on 2023-03-27T08:00:00-05:00 in Economics, Public Service, U.S. History since 1877, World History | 0 Comments

César Chávez was an important figure in American labor history. Today, we celebrate César Chávez Day by volunteering, getting involved with your community, and learning about labor history.

(Photo credit: Arthur Schatz / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images. Photo found on AARP's César Chávez Photo Gallery).

César Chávez speaking with farm workers on a grape farm about the United Farm Workers (UFW) union on March 1, 1968. 

Who Was César Chávez?

According to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), César Chávez became "a full-time organizer for the Community Services Organization (CSO)" in 1943. In 1962, with his wife and CSO colleague, Dolores Huerta, Chávez established the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), where they "lobbied for a minimum wage and unemployment insurance for farm workers, advocated farm workers' right to collective bargaining, and established a life insurance plan, a credit union and a hiring hall for [NFWA] members" (from AFL-CIO's Key People in Labor History, "César Chávez" article). 

In 1966 the NFWA merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to form the new United Farm Workers (UFW) (AFL-CIO). In August 1967, in response to working conditions for grape farm workers, UFW struck Giumarra Vineyards, "the largest grower of grapes in California" (AFL-CIO). After two years of boycotting and spreading the word across North America, the boycott "had stopped the sales of California table grapes in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal, and Toronto" (AFL-CIO). That summer, in July 1969, the Giumarra family had had enough. They agreed to "assemble the other 28 major grape growers" who agreed to "recognize the union, raise the grape pickers' pay, create a hiring hall, set up a joint labor-management committee to regulate pesticide use and contribute to the farm workers' health and welfare plan" (AFL-CIO).

In spite of this major victory, it soon became clear that the union would only be protected if these protections were codified into law. César Chávez pressured Governor Jerry Brown to "support a farm labor law that would recognize the special circumstances of the migrant workers" (AFL-CIO). The California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which recognized migrant workers' rights, was signed into law in June 1975.

Why Do We Celebrate César Chávez Day?

César Chávez was an important advocate for workers' rights, especially for the rights of migrant workers and farm workers. In his March 30, 2022 Proclamation, President Joe Biden asked the Nation to "keep the lessons he taught in our minds and the values he lived by in our hearts: the power of workers to bargain for a better deal, strength in the face of extraordinary adversity, and the conviction to fight for what we believe in" (from A Proclamation on César Chávez Day, 2022). 

United Farm Workers

The United Farm Workers (UFW) are a farm workers' union founded by César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, Larry Itliong, and other organizers. Today, the UFW is "the nation's first enduring and largest farm workers' union" (UFW). The UFW is "working for a safe and just food supply" by working for "legislative and regulatory reforms for farm workers covering issues such as overtime, heat safety, other worker protections, and pesticides" (UFW).

Read More About César Chávez

Books About César Chávez in Spanish


Books About César Chávez in English


Thanks for reading! We hope to see you in the library again soon!

 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.


  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.