March 31, 2000

State Workers Make Money on Cesar Chavez

As expected, Governor Gray Davis will sign into law Senate Bill SB 984, sponsored by Senator Richard Polanco (D), making March 31, the birthday of César Chávez, a paid holiday for state workers. This act will cost the California taxpayers anywhere from $43 million to $188 million per year, according to budget analysts.

The sudden fast tracking of, SB 984, the Chávez Bill, would make it seem like all the Mexican organizations, politicos movie stars, and community activists are in support of making the birthday of Chávez a `paid State holiday.' In fact, the Bill was steamrollered by a few Latino legislatures with or no effort to sense the opinion of the majority of the Mexican American and Latino voters. As it stands right now, the cost of honoring Chávez is going to come at the cost of achieving substantive changes that would attack the very roots of our dis-enfranchisement and exclusion from American society.

The majority of the 30 million Mexicanos and Latinos in America are systematically excluded from achieving racial, economical, educational, political and social equality. The $50-$188 million that will be spent yearly on honoring one person are moneys that could be utilized to root out the very real evils of discrimination and racism that maintain our people in a servile position in America.

The holiday means little to the majority of the state workers "who are not Mexican nor Latino." Perhaps a few Chicanos, who work for state funded agencies or organizations will get a paid holiday and make an effort to spend the time to honor César. But, at what cost?

César Chávez gained recognition for fighting to bring the farm workers as well as all other oppressed minorities of this nation under the protection of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. He fought to stop the exploitation of Mexicans, Latinos and all other people of color.

In our State, we, the descendants of the Spanish Conquest, are honored by having our State named after our forefathers, having mountain ranges named in their honor. We have cities, towns, counties that bear the names of our people. We are honored by having our massive ocean named in our honor. We are honored by statutes in our parks, byways and roadways bearing our names. We are honored in so many ways except in being accepted as human beings in our own country since the migration from Europe began in the 1600's.

On March 31st, the Farmworkers, as well as most of the working class people of color, in California, will be busy, working in the fields, stores, factories, restaurants, bars, hotels, earning a pitiful pittance in jobs that no Anglo-European will take.

Making March 31 a "paid" holiday is a transparent ploy to distract the people from demanding the real changes that are needed that will make a difference in our lives and the lives of our children. The State is offering a bon bon to the masses instead of substantive change and our politicos bought into it!

Paid holiday or not, we will honor César Chávez. As we have while he lived and struggled and now that the Good Lord took him away from us.

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