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City offices closed to honor Cesar Chavez

Most city workers have the day off Monday, as Tucson marks its first municipal holiday honoring labor leader César Chávez. The holiday was unanimously approved by the City Council last year.

The city honors Chavez on the Monday closest to March 31.

While Chávez died 20 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 has proclaimed March 31 as César Chávez Day for several years, and three states, Colorado, Texas and California, have the date marked — there are relatively few cities that offer the day as a paid holiday. 

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."

Phoenix, Tempe and South Tucson are other Arizona cities that have a paid holiday to honoring Chávez. Pima County also recognizes the Hispanic activist.

The city manager estimated last year that the holiday would add about $503,000 to the city budget annually.

Due to the holiday, city trash and recycling collections will be delayed by one day all week. Los Reales landfill will remain open Monday.

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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