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Obama speaks at dedication of Cesar Chavez monument in California

 
 
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2012 10:21 am
Oct. 08, 2012
Obama speaks at dedication of Cesar Chavez monument in California
By John Ellis | Fresno Bee

KEENE, Calif. -- ]

President Barack Obama on Monday dedicated the nation's newest addition to the National Park system, a 187-acre site where labor leader Cesar Chavez lived the last 22 years of his life and where he is now buried.

A crowd estimated at 7,000 came from all across California as well as other parts of the nation to witness Obama's first visit to the San Joaquin Valley on a day he called "a long time coming."

Though Chavez's home is located in the Tehachapi Mountain foothills, Air Force One landed in nearby Bakersfield, and much of the farm-labor rights movement has its roots in the Valley.

"To the members of the Chavez family and those who knew and loved Cesar; to the men and women who've worked so hard for so long to preserve this place, I want to say to all of you, thank you," Obama said.

Farmworkers were bused in from as far away as Imperial Valley to the south and Santa Rosa to the north. Children from Kern County schools were bused in. Thousands more from the Los Angeles area, the state's High Desert country, and the San Joaquin Valley - Fresno included - made the trek to La Paz, Chavez's home in this tiny hamlet.

They crowded together on one of the property's few flat areas. Based on a sustained chant of "four more years" long before Obama took the stage to speak, their political leanings were evident as well.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Chavez's son Paul and United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez all spoke before Obama, with Rodriguez introducing the president to raucous applause and more chants of "four more years."

Obama in turn wasted no time in using the UFW's rallying cry: "Buenos dias," he said. "Si, se puede."

The president went on to tell the story of farmworkers and the union that rose up to fight for things such as fair pay and no pesticides sprayed in fields while they were being worked.

But Obama then said "the truth is, we would not be here if it weren't for Cesar."

He then talked of Chavez's life story and his efforts on behalf of not only farmworker rights, but basic human rights for all.

Every time someone's son or daughter comes here and learns the history of the farmworker labor movement, Obama said, they will see the road is never hopeless and the work is never done.

"Our world is a better place because Cesar Chavez decided to change it," he said.

Obama turned to Chavez's widow, Helen.

"To Helen, this will always be home. It's where she fought alongside the man she loved," Obama said. "This is the place she will live out her days."

Obama then joked, "You are our host today. Feel free to kick us out whenever you want."

Chavez's son, Paul, who heads the Cesar Chavez Foundation, preceded Obama at the podium.

"He found the place where he could plan and strategize," Chavez said of his father. "But it was more than that for my father. La Paz became a spiritual harbor for him."

The 187-acre site in the foothills east of Bakersfield is known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or simply La Paz. It served as the planning and coordination center of the United Farm Workers of America starting in 1971. It's where Chavez and many organizers lived, trained and strategized.

Earlier, Obama visited the grave of Cesar Chavez at La Paz. He placed a single red rose - a variety named after the labor leader - on Chavez's resting place.

The gravesite sits amid a lush garden surrounded by low, white adobe walls and arbors of dark wood beams covered in climbing vines. The grave is marked by an unpainted wooden cross and low stone marker that sits alone in the midst of a plot of well tended grass.

Obama was joined by Helen Chavez and Paul Chavez, along with UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta and UFW President Arturo Rodriguez.

Obama left the gravesite with his arms around Huerta and Helen Chavez.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2012 10:44 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
I wish I could have attended the dedication of Cesar Chavez. I have my own story about my work with the farmworkers. I, and some of my women friends drove long drives from the California Bay Area almost every month to bring food, clothing, and support for the 1968 Filipino grape pickers in Delano, California, striking for higher wages. We helped to create the strike initiating the boycott of California grapes using the Berkeley Consumers Co-operative. I will add the story of the Cooperative following the history I'm adding to the history of this Filipino and Chavez strikes. BBB

Chávez, César Estrada

César Estrada Chávez, the son of Mexican American farm workers, became a well-known labor leader, founding the united farm workers (UFW) union, which led a massive grape boycott across the United States during the 1960s. Chávez won wage increases, benefits, and legal protections for migrant farm workers in the western United States and fought to have dangerous pesticides outlawed.

Chávez was born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona, one of five children in a family that lived on a small farm for a time. When he was a child, the family was pushed onto the road as migrant laborers when Chávez's parents lost the family farm during the Great Depression. Later, he often spoke of what he felt was the unjust way in which his family had lost their property through foreclosure. Chávez never went beyond the eighth grade, and he once said that he had attended over 60 elementary schools because of his family's constant search for work in the fields.

Chávez was exposed to labor organizing as a young boy, when his father and uncle joined a dried-fruit industry union during the late 1930s. The young Chávez was deeply impressed when the workers later went on strike. At age 19, Chávez himself picketed cotton fields but watched the union fail in its efforts to organize the workers.

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he returned to California, where he married a woman named Helen Fabela. In 1952, the Los Angeles headquarters of organizer Saul Alinsky's Community Service Organization (CSO) decided to set up a chapter in San Jose, California, to work for Civil Rights for the area's Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants. A parish priest supplied several names to CSO organizer Fred Ross, including that of Chávez, who was then living in one of San Jose's poorest and toughest neighborhoods—Sal Si Puedes (leave, if you can). Ross believed that Chávez could be the best grassroots leader he had ever encountered, so he sought Chávez out and eventually convinced him to join the group's efforts. Chávez began as a volunteer in a CSO voter registration drive and a few months later was hired as a staff member. He spent the next ten years leading voter registration drives throughout the San Joaquin Valley and advocating for Mexican immigrants who complained of mistreatment by police officers, immigration authorities, and Welfare officials.

Chávez believed that unionizing was the only chance for farm workers to improve their working conditions. He resigned in 1962, increasingly frustrated because the CSO would not become involved in forming a farm workers' union. He immediately established the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the UFW, an affiliate of the american federation of labor and congress of industrial organizations (AFL-CIO). At the UFW's first meeting in September 1962, in Fresno, California, Chávez's cousin, Manuel Chávez, unveiled the flag that he and Chávez had designed for the new union—a black Aztec eagle in a white circle on a bold red background. The banner soon became the symbol of the farm workers' struggle.

When Chávez founded the UFW, field workers in California averaged $1.50 per hour, received no benefits, and had no methods by which to challenge their employers. Under Chávez's leadership, the UFW won tremendous
wage increases and extensive benefits for farm workers, including medical and unemployment insurance and Workers' Compensation.A strict believer in nonviolence, Chávez used marches, boycotts, strikes, fasts, and civil disobedience to force growers in California's agricultural valleys to the bargaining table. In 1968, Filipino grape pickers in Delano, California, struck for higher wages; several days later, the UFW joined the strike and initiated a boycott of California grapes. More than 200 union supporters traveled across the United States and into Canada, urging consumers not to buy California grapes. The mayors of New York, Boston, Detroit, and St. Louis announced that their cities would not buy nonunion grapes. By August 1968, California grape growers estimated that the boycott had cost them about 20 percent of their expected revenue. The boycott brought Chávez to the attention of national political leaders, including U.S. Senator robert f. kennedy, who sought the Democratic Party nomination for president before his assassination in 1968. Kennedy described Chávez as a heroic figure. In 1970, after its successful boycott, the UFW signed contracts with the grape growers.

"Our struggle is not easy … But we have something the rich do not own. We have our bodies and spirits and the justice of our cause as our weapons."
—CÉsar ChÁvez

In 1975, Chávez had a great success when the strongest law ever enacted to protect farm workers, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (Cal. Lab. Code § 1140 et seq. [West]), was passed by the California Legislature. This law gave workers the right to bargain collectively and the right to seek redress for unfair labor practices. Other regulations banned the use of tools that caused crippling back injuries, such as the short-handled hoe, and required growers to give workers breaks and to provide toilets and fresh water in the fields. Chávez was among the first to link workers' health problems to pesticides. He negotiated union contracts that prohibited growers from using DDT, and he targeted five leading pesticides that cause birth defects or kill upon contact.

At its peak during the 1970s the UFW had over 70,000 members. During the early 1980s, the UFW's influence began to wane and union membership dipped below ten thousand. Chávez blamed the decline in part on the election of Republican governors, who sided with the growers. In addition, Chávez decided to turn his efforts toward conducting boycotts rather than organizing workers, a move that was widely criticized and caused a split among the union's members. Chávez was also forced to defend himself against lawsuits stemming from UFW actions taken years before. In 1991, the union lost a $2.4 million case when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear its appeal. The case stemmed from a 1979 Imperial Valley strike in which a farm worker was shot and killed (Maggio, Inc. v. United Farm Workers of America, 227 Cal. App. 3d 847, 278 Cal. Rptr. 250 [Cal. App. 1991], cert. denied, 502 U.S. 863, 112 S. Ct. 187, 116 L. Ed. 2d 148 [1991]).

In April 1993, Chávez returned to San Luis, a small town near his native Yuma, Arizona, to testify in the retrial of a lawsuit brought by Bruce Church, Inc., a large Salinas, California–based producer of iceberg lettuce. At the time Chávez testified, Bruce Church had extensive landholdings in Arizona and California, including the acreage east of Yuma that Chávez's parents had once owned. The company had won a $5.4 million judgment for alleged damage caused by union boycotts, but an appellate court over-turned the judgment and sent the case back to the trial court (Bruce Church, Inc. v. United Farm Workers of America, 816 P. 2d 919 [Ariz. App. 1991]). On April 22, Chávez finished his second day of testimony in Yuma County Superior Court. He returned to spend the night at the home of a family friend and died in his sleep.

Following Chávez's death, Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO, described the leader as instrumental in organized labor's efforts to improve the lot of the worker. "Always, César had conveyed hope and determination, especially to minority workers, in the daily struggle against injustice and hardship," Kirkland said. "The improved lives of millions of farm workers and their families will endure as a testimonial to César and his life's work."

In a 1984 speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Chávez said, "Regardless of what the future holds for our union, regardless of what the future holds for farm workers, our accomplishment cannot be undone. The consciousness and pride that were raised by our union are alive and thriving inside millions of young Hispanics who will never work on a farm."
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2012 11:05 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
I devoted over twenty five years The Consumers' Cooperative of Berkeley. I ended up in 1975 one of the eight officers of the company. I had to leave my position when I took a new job that required a lot of traveling.

The CO-OP played an important part of helping Cesar Chavez and many others to create the Farmworkers Union. You may be interested in the history of the Co-op.
------------------------------------------------------------

Consumers' Cooperative of Berkeley

Consumers' Cooperative of Berkeley (CCB, also known as Berkeley Co-op) was a consumers' cooperative based in Berkeley, California which operated from 1939 to 1988,[1] when it collapsed due to internal governance disputes and bankruptcy. During its height, it was the largest cooperative of its kind in North America, with over 100,000 members, and its collapse has provoked intellectual discussion over how food cooperatives should be operated.[2]

The CCB evolved out of the Berkeley Buyers' Club, formed on January 27, 1936 by a small group of families active in Upton Sinclair's EPIC and local Democratic Party clubs.[3] In the beginning the co-op operated out of the basement of the parsonage of a local Methodist minister, Roy Wilson, in cooperation with another buyers' club formed seven weeks earlier in Oakland, California. In April 1937 60 families in the local clubs joined forces to open the CCB's first store at 2491 Shattuck Avenue.

By the end of 1937 the store had moved into larger premises on University Avenue, and by 1939 the co-op had grown to 225 families, with sales of $700 a week. In 1957 it was the second largest urban cooperative in the United States, with 6,000 member families, and by 1963 there were 30,000 families enrolled and several stores in operation.

During the 1960s there were a series of hotly contested elections to the co-op board, in which a politically left opposition faction represented by board member Robert Treuhaft ran its own independent slate of candidates in opposition to "official" slate. This faction held a brief-lived majority on the board in 1969. The de facto division of the co-op board into two parties continued until the end, with many issues narrowly decided on a 5-4 vote.

The co-op, which at one point was operating 12 supermarkets with $83 million in sales, began closing locations and selling off co-op property in the 1970s. The co-op's final demise in 1988 has been attributed to a number of factors, including too rapid expansion, political infighting over issues like consumer boycotts, and the board's failure to negotiate concessions from its employees' union during its decline.

Stores

University Avenue (at Acton Street) - Until the early 1960's, this was the only Co-op. It consisted of two buildings, one housing the grocery, the other a hardware store. The grocery was bought and operated by Andronico's until that chain went bankrupt in 2011. The grocery is currently vacant. The adjacent building that was the site of the hardware store now houses several small businesses.

Shattuck Avenue (at Cedar Street) - currently the site of an Andronico's store. This Co-op opened in the early 1960's in a newly-constructed building. For a time, it included a child care facility called the "Kiddie Korral". Also located in the same building was the Books Unlimited bookstore and the Co-op Credit Union, which still exists but at another site. In the mid 1960's, the Co-op Hardware store moved from its previous site adjacent to the University Avenue Co-op grocery to a site kitty corner from the Shattuck Co-op grocery. This site is currently a Walgreen's store.

Telegraph Avenue (at Ashby Avenue) - opened in the early 1960's in a building formerly owned by Sid's, also a grocery. For a time, two concessions continued operating within the store; one was a Winchell's Donuts outlet, the other a barbecue chicken vendor. On the corner of the parking lot was another concession, a small florist shop which still operates. Whole Foods is the current proprietor of the grocery.

Richmond/El Cerrito - currently the site of an Orchard Supply Hardware store.

Geary Road, Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill

San Francisco - was located in the Northpoint Center on Bay Street near Fisherman's Wharf.

Co-op Garage - located on the corner of University Avenue and Sacramento Street near the University Avenue grocery.

Warehouse - located in Richmond.

Presidents

Margaret Shaughnessy Gordon
Fred Guy
Bob Arnold (BumbleBeeBoogie's management member. She was also president for her family store.)

References

^ Berkeley Journal; Who'll Sell Tofu Puffs After Co-ops Are Gone?, by Katherine Bishop, Monday, June 6, 1988, New York Times

^ Berkeley: Lessons for Co-op Leaders, by Karen Zimbelman, January–February 1992

^ For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, by John Curl (PM Press, 2009), p. 192-203. Retrieved April 28, 2010.

External links

Guide to the records of the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley at The Bancroft Library

Consumers' Cooperative of Berkeley (CCB, also known as Berkeley Co-op) was a consumers' cooperative based in Berkeley, California which operated from 1939 to 1988,[1] when it collapsed due to internal governance disputes and bankruptcy. During its height, it was the largest cooperative of its kind in North America, with over 100,000 members, and its collapse has provoked intellectual discussion over how food cooperatives should be operated.[2]

The CCB evolved out of the Berkeley Buyers' Club, formed on January 27, 1936 by a small group of families active in Upton Sinclair's EPIC and local Democratic Party clubs.[3] In the beginning the co-op operated out of the basement of the parsonage of a local Methodist minister, Roy Wilson, in cooperation with another buyers' club formed seven weeks earlier in Oakland, California. In April 1937 60 families in the local clubs joined forces to open the CCB's first store at 2491 Shattuck Avenue.

By the end of 1937 the store had moved into larger premises on University Avenue, and by 1939 the co-op had grown to 225 families, with sales of $700 a week. In 1957 it was the second largest urban cooperative in the United States, with 6,000 member families, and by 1963 there were 30,000 families enrolled and several stores in operation.

During the 1960s there were a series of hotly contested elections to the co-op board, in which a politically left opposition faction represented by board member Robert Treuhaft ran its own independent slate of candidates in opposition to "official" slate. This faction held a brief-lived majority on the board in 1969. The de facto division of the co-op board into two parties continued until the end, with many issues narrowly decided on a 5-4 vote.

The co-op, which at one point was operating 12 supermarkets with $83 million in sales, began closing locations and selling off co-op property in the 1970s. The co-op's final demise in 1988 has been attributed to a number of factors, including too rapid expansion, political infighting over issues like consumer boycotts, and the board's failure to negotiate concessions from its employees' union during its decline.

Stores

University Avenue (at Acton Street) - Until the early 1960's, this was the only Co-op. It consisted of two buildings, one housing the grocery, the other a hardware store. The grocery was bought and operated by Andronico's until that chain went bankrupt in 2011. The grocery is currently vacant. The adjacent building that was the site of the hardware store now houses several small businesses.

Shattuck Avenue (at Cedar Street) - currently the site of an Andronico's store. This Co-op opened in the early 1960's in a newly-constructed building. For a time, it included a child care facility called the "Kiddie Korral". Also located in the same building was the Books Unlimited bookstore and the Co-op Credit Union, which still exists but at another site. In the mid 1960's, the Co-op Hardware store moved from its previous site adjacent to the University Avenue Co-op grocery to a site kitty corner from the Shattuck Co-op grocery. This site is currently a Walgreen's store.

Telegraph Avenue (at Ashby Avenue) - opened in the early 1960's in a building formerly owned by Sid's, also a grocery. For a time, two concessions continued operating within the store; one was a Winchell's Donuts outlet, the other a barbecue chicken vendor. On the corner of the parking lot was another concession, a small florist shop which still operates. Whole Foods is the current proprietor of the grocery.

Richmond/El Cerrito - currently the site of an Orchard Supply Hardware store.

Geary Road, Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill (BumbleBeeBoogie's store)

San Francisco - was located in the Northpoint Center on Bay Street near Fisherman's Wharf.

Co-op Garage - located on the corner of University Avenue and Sacramento Street near the University Avenue grocery.

Warehouse - located in Richmond.

Book References

^ Berkeley Journal; Who'll Sell Tofu Puffs After Co-ops Are Gone?, by Katherine Bishop, Monday, June 6, 1988, New York Times

^ Berkeley: Lessons for Co-op Leaders, by Karen Zimbelman, January–February 1992

^ For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, by John Curl (PM Press, 2009), p. 192-203. Retrieved April 28, 2010.

External links

Guide to the records of the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley at The Bancroft Library
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