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 Pritchard

I'm new to political blogging but have been writing most of my life about different things. I campaigned for President Clinton when he was just Governor Clinton in Orange County. I graduated from Smith College with a BA in English and a minor in Film. I work full time, have a lovely four year old daughter named Charlotte, my husband teaches full time at Cerritos College in Norwalk in the Music Department. Gary has a Ph.D in Ethnomusicology from UCI. I hope to go back to school in some form or another, maybe sociology or economics. I've even thought of Law school. Our newest edition to the household is our Weimaraner Sophie. 

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