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City offices closed Friday for Cesar Chavez Day

Tucson city offices will be closed Friday in honor of civil rights and labor leader César Chávez. The city established the paid holiday in 2014.

While Pima County's personnel manual calls for the Board of Supervisors to proclaim a "day of remembrance" for the United Farmworkers organizer, the county is instead using a floating holiday this year, officials said.

City trash and recycling services will not change because of the holiday, and the Los Reales Landfill and Household Hazardous Waste collections sites will remain open.

Sun Tran, Sun Link and other transit services will operate on a regular schedule.

The city's "César E. Chávez Holiday" is observed the Monday or Friday closest to March 31, the labor leader's birthday.

"I want to call attention to an amazing leader who left a lasting legacy in my life and the lives of thousands of working families in Arizona and across the country," Councilwoman Regina Romero said in proposing the paid holiday for city workers in 2014. "Chávez was an American hero and an Arizona native."

Chávez worked for access to safe drinking water for farmworkers, to end sexual harassment of women in the fields, for medical benefits and a union contract that banned pesticide exposure, Romero said during a City Council meeting.

The holiday was unanimously approved by the Council.

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Speaking to the Council before the vote, a co-founder of the United Farmworkers spoke about Chávez's importance.

"We need to have César's legacy be known," said Dolores Huerta.

Adding César Chávez Day gave city employees 11 paid holidays, adding an estimated cost of $503,000 to the city budget each year, according to an evaluation from the city manager’s office.

With the holiday's approval, Tucson joined Phoenix, Tempe and South Tucson as cities that have a paid holiday to honoring Chávez.

While Chávez died 25 years ago, his influence in American politics remains. The co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association along with Dolores Huerta, Chávez pushed hard for rights of field workers throughout the Southwest.

The labor leader, credited with coining the "Sí se puede" slogan during a 1972 protest fast, rose to prominence as he led a national boycott of grapes to force growers to improve working conditions.

While there is wide recognition of Chávez — the White House proclaimed March 31 as César Chávez Day under President Barack Obama, and three states, Colorado, Texas and California, have the date marked — there are relatively few cities that offer the day as a paid holiday. President Donald Trump has not proclaimed a day to honor Chavez.

Chavez (March 31, 1927 - April 23, 1993) was, along with Huerta, one of the best-known leaders of the Hispanic civil rights movement in the 1960s. Chavez was born in San Luis, Ariz.

In 2011, the Navy named a Lewis and Clark-class supply ship after Chávez, who joined the Navy when he was just 17 years old and served during World War II.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

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In 2012, the César E. Chávez National Monument was designated at the UFW's historic headquarters in California.

Modeling himself on Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., he called on Hispanics to "Make a solemn promise: to enjoy our rightful part of the riches of this land, to throw off the yoke of being considered as agricultural implements or slaves. We are free men and we demand justice."

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Click image to enlarge

Joel Levine via Wikipedia

Chavez, in a cropped and retouched 1974 photo.

City of Tucson holidays

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Presidents Day
  • César E. Chávez Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Floating/birthday holiday