We honor the memory of Cesar Chavez on Monday, April 1, a state holiday in California. We at the Media Workers Guild, along with most other California unions, recognize this holiday and close our offices.
All our members can find a way to honor the memory of the United Farm Workers founder. He was a longtime ally of the Guild who joined in our marches and supported our struggles as we supported his. The UFW Eagle flag hangs near the entrance at our headquarters on Natoma Street in San Francisco.
Sabine Stetson (photo below), one of our shop stewards at the San Francisco Newspaper Agency in days gone by, vividly recalls meeting Chavez while he was helping rally support for Central Valley workers in San Francisco in 1992.
“He was with the strawberry workers lined up along Market Street,” she said, adding that she’s “forever grateful” for having met the great labor hero.
Even if your employer does not grant you the day off with pay, Cesar’s spirit can rejuvenate you. If you are in a bargaining unit locked in a contract battle, for instance, you might consider incorporating some of his values and tactics into your campaign. Si se puede!
Pause to honor a man who worked tirelessly for those who felt they had no voice for so long. As media workers, we strive to give voice to those who would be suppressed by corporate interests, political machinations, or power-brokers that seek to advance widening income inequality.
Right now, the Guild is fighting on many fronts: in San Francisco at the Chronicle where Hearst Corp wants to kill our Media Workers Health and Welfare Trust; in the East Bay where Bay Area News Group (MediaNews) wants to keep its workers paid at below livable standards; and in Hawaii, where Stephens Media is engaging in rank union-busting. In addition, difficult bargaining is under way in three of our four statewide court interpreter units, where the administration wants the right to send full-time workers home in mid-afternoon with no pay.
These are fights that Cesar Chavez would be out in front helping us win.