February 04, 2000

César Chávez Legacy Betrayed

Democratic State Senate leadership has tainted the memory of what remains of the Chávez legacy. In their rush to push for a bill to create a paid state holiday honoring César Chávez, who led the struggle to bring justice to the farm workers of California, created a bill that will burden, with additional millions of dollars in taxes, the very same people for whom he devoted his life to; the underpaid, overworked, working class of this state be they farm workers, unskilled workers, service industry workers, or migrant workers.

The bill passed 23-0 with all Republicans abstaining. If passed by the State Assembly and signed by the Governor every state employee (police, educators, prison guards, administrators, professionals, employees of every single state agency) will be paid for not working on that day. That is, most everyone will be paid by our state tax monies in the name of César Chávez, except those for whom César Chávez gave his life for: the Mexican, Latinos, Chicanos, Filipinos, all the working class people of this state and nation.

The cost will be from $60 to -100 million dollars in tax dollars for that one day. The state already pays for 13 paid holidays! The total cost for 14 paid holidays will cost the taxpayers from $840 million to $1.24 billion dollars per year!

Due to the lack of effective Affirmative Action and equal opportunities, the Mexican American- Latino community is woefully underrepresented in the employee roles of the state. They will not derive a benefit from this imposition of this tax. It will benefit those that already are in the middle-upper class segments of our society. Rather, than voting for a meaningless symbol, it would be far more relevant if César Chávez was honored by having $60-$100 million dollars be spent by the state, in celebration of his day, in upgrading their lives; the lives of the working under-class of this state!

It is quite clear that our people have been emotionally manipulated to provide a massive tax subsidy to the mostly White State paid employees. We will be the losers of those millions that could be used for the benefit of those in poverty and still working in intolerable conditions on our farms, sweatshops, service industries doing all the back breaking work that usually create the conditions of work that Chávez deplored.

It is not a comforting thought to know that if this bill passes, we will have burden our children for generations to come with millions of dollars in new taxes that serve little purpose but sooth our egos. César Chávez must be turning in his grave.

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