Latino lawmakers want national park honoring César Chávez and farm workers

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California Democratic Senator Alex Padilla and Representative Raul Ruiz want the United States to create a national park dedicated to labor rights icon César Chávez and the farmworker movement.

On Thursday, lawmakers introduced a invoice to preserve several sites in California and Arizona such as the César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Historical Park. The park would include the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, California, and designate as a National Historic Trail the more than 300 miles traveled by farm workers from Delano to Sacramento calling on the state to allow them to unionize.

The creation of this park “would pay a fitting tribute to a Latin American icon and civil rights leader who fought tirelessly for the dignity, respect and equal treatment of agricultural workers and to the movement he has created and continues today,” Padilla said in a press release.

Chávez, born in Arizona in 1927 to farm worker parents, moved to California as a child and worked in the fields with her family. In the 1960s, he co-founded the United Farmworkers movement with fellow union activist Dolores Huerta. They fought for migrant farm workers to have better wages and working conditions, organizing the vineyard workers’ strike and launching a national boycott. These efforts led to some of the first union contracts for agricultural workers.

United Farm Workers lobbied for policy changes that led to the Adoption in 1975 of the Labor Relations in Agriculture Act in California, which granted agricultural workers in the state the right to bargain collectively within the framework of a union.

To this day, United Farm Workers continues to fight for the rights of migrant farm workers, who work the fields in harsh conditions for low pay, including extreme heat in the midst of the climate crisis.

Padilla’s office noted in its statement that “too few national park units focus primarily on women, communities of color, or other historically marginalized groups.”



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