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Tucson city offices closed Friday for César Chávez Day

Tucson city offices closed Friday for César Chávez Day

  •  Joel Levine via Wikipedia Chavez, in a cropped and retouched 1974 photo.
    Joel Levine via Wikipedia Joel Levine via Wikipedia Chavez, in a cropped and retouched 1974 photo.

All city of Tucson offices, except for emergency services, will be closed Friday, March 31, in observance of César Chávez Day.

Residential and commercial trash and recycling will not be affected, and Sun Tran, Sun Van, and the Sun Link streetcar 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. The city of South Tucson also recognizes the holiday.

Pima County recognizes the day and allows employees to take a floating holiday, but county government offices remain open.

The federal commemorative holiday was first proclaimed by President Barack Obama in 2014 and celebrates the civil rights and United Farm Workers leader who was born in the Yuma area.

"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," Regina Romero — then a member of the City Council, now Tucson's mayor — 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, said Romero, the daughter of Yuma-area farm workers.

The labor leader, credited with inspiring 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 — Presidents Barak Obama and Joe Biden have both proclaimed César Chávez Day and several states, including Colorado, Texas and California, have the date marked — there are relatively few cities that offer the day as a paid holiday.

Chávez (March 31, 1927 - April 23, 1993) was one of the best-known leaders of the Hispanic civil rights movement in the 1960s. Chávez 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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