Labor Day, celebrated in the United States on the first Monday of each September, is our nation's official commemoration of our workers' contributions to national strength, prosperity and well-being.
There are so many heroes who advanced workers’ rights, but fewer did more than
Mexican-American farmworker, labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez. Born on his family’s farm near Yuma, Arizona, Chávez saw first hand the harsh conditions farm laborers endured. Routinely exploited by their employers, they were often unpaid, living in squalor, without basic facilities. Without a collective voice, they had no means to improve their position.
In 1962, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Gilbert Padilla started a union, the National Farm Workers Association. The NFWA later joined with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee in its first strike against grape growers in California, and the two organizations later merged to become the United Farm Workers. Through marches, strikes and boycotts, Chávez forced employers to pay adequate wages and provide other benefits and was responsible for legislation enacting the first Bill of Rights for agricultural workers. For his tireless commitment to social justice and his lifelong dedication to bettering the lives of others, Chávez was posthumously recognized with the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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