Union Workers Rally for Wage Increases on Cesar Chavez Day

It’s only appropriate isn’t it?  300 Union Janitors demonstrated on this Holiday for Chavez to demand higher wages and expanded benefits as their Union goes to negotiate their contract.  The cost of living in Orange County is high and many would argue that the unskilled janitors should not and do not deserve higher wages, that these jobs were meant for people who do not need to support a family, but as many know, the reality is, many must take such jobs to get by.  All work should be seen as honorable and important and health benefits should be expected for anyone who puts in an honest forty hours or more a week.

Their union, the Service Employees International Union, is beginning to negotiate the next contract and has scheduled marches throughout California to put pressure on the companies that employ them. The hour-long march through Santa Ana drew unionized janitors from throughout Orange County, and about 20 from Los Angeles county.

The janitors make $8.65 an hour under their current contract – far less than they need to afford adequate housing in Orange County, union leaders say. Those who took to the streets of Santa Ana were also marching in solidarity with janitors in other counties, who are also fighting for more health benefits.

The OC Register 

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/contract-santa-janitors-2008859-union-county 

Not only were their local protests there has been a National call to make California’s Cesar Chavez day a National Holiday.   Lawmakers in Washington have been asking for this for over fifteen years.

In Washington, D.C., members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and others have pushed for a federal holiday since Chavez’s death in 1993. Legislation by Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joe Baca of California has about three dozen co-sponsors and Baca plans to call for its passage at a news conference Tuesday. Mercury News http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_875844Senator Obama joined this call for a National Holiday and released a statement to show his support.

“As farmworkers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago,” Obama said in a statement from his campaign. “And we should honor him for what he’s taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation.

“That’s why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a national holiday. It’s time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union.”

Senator Clinton also released a Statement in honor of our State’s Holiday.

“Today, I join millions of Americans in commemorating the life of one of our great civil rights leaders, Cesar Chavez. Driven by his strong desire to ensure better quality of life for migrant farmworkers across the country, Chavez helped found -– along with Dolores Huerta –- the United Farm Workers of America, arguably one of the first effective farmworkers unions in the United States.”

Under his leadership — highlighted by nonviolent protest — thousands of farmers across the country were able to secure improved wages and benefits, humane living and working conditions, and better job security. Through his lifetime of service, he has paved the way for many, and provided inspiration for countless others.” 

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/03/barack-obama-ca.html

And although Chavez was not a proponent for any immigration due to the fact that he felt this drove down workers wages, it is our reality now and the myth that these workers put a greater burden on our system than what they give back in taxes and low cost labor is what perpetuates the idea that they don’t deserve more.

Heather Irene Justus

My blogging here is not an endorsement of any other opinion but my own. I'm no longer new to blogging, I've been writing locally and nationally since 2007 starting here at the Liberal OC. I was born in New York and grew up in Huntington Beach, CA and currently live in Aliso Viejo. I graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in English and Film and eventually may go back to school, but I'm still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Until then, I work and write and try to do something useful here in the OC by using the word to point out the things that make me frustrated. It's a daily struggle. Issues that peak my interest the most are environmental (yes, I don't just 'believe" in climate change, I listen to all those whacky scientists), gender and body issues (women deserve equal pay, I'm a feminist too, crazy) to the continuing widening economic gap we are not enjoying here in the US (which ties to education, stagnant wages and debt). So many issues, but those are the top three right now. I am an unabashed corgi lover, nerd and all around strange girl. I am lucky enough to be raising a wonderful daughter as well and enjoying being unmarried. 

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