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2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois House of
3Representatives are pleased to honor the life and legacy of
4farm workers' leader Cesar Estrada Chavez; and
5    WHEREAS, Cesar Estrada Chavez was born on March 31, 1927
6on a farm near Yuma, Arizona that his grandfather homesteaded
7in the 1880s; after Cesar Chavez's father, Librado, was forced
8from his farm in 1937, the Chavez family became migrant
9workers in California, the beginning of Cesar's legendary
10destiny; he quit school after the 8th grade in 1942 in order to
11help support his family by working in the fields full time; and
12    WHEREAS, In 1944, Cesar Chavez joined the United States
13Navy, where he was slated to serve in the western Pacific
14theatre during World War II; just before he was to be shipped
15to the Pacific, he was arrested in a segregated movie theater
16in Delano, California for sitting in the "whites only"
17section; and
18    WHEREAS, In 1952, Cesar Chavez was recruited into the
19Community Service Organization (CSO) by community organizer
20Fred Ross, who discovered the young farm worker laboring in
21apricot orchards outside San Jose, California; together with
22Mr. Ross, he organized 22 CSO chapters across California



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1during the 1950s, leading to CSO becoming the most militant
2and effective Latino civil rights group of its day; and
3    WHEREAS, On March 31, 1962, his 35th birthday, Cesar
4Chavez resigned from CSO, choosing instead to move his wife
5and eight small children to Delano, California and to dedicate
6himself full time to organizing farm workers; the first
7convention of Cesar's National Farm Workers Association (NFWA)
8convened in Fresno, California on September 30, 1962; and
9    WHEREAS, The 1960s presented a prime opportunity for Cesar
10Chavez and his new organization to advocate for the rights of
11migrant workers; having worked on building the membership of
12his infant union during the early 1960s, the NFWA, with
131,200-member families, voted on September 16, 1965 to join an
14ongoing strike against Delano-area grape growers started by
15the mostly Filipino American members of the Agricultural
16Workers Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (AWOC), beginning the
17famous five-year Delano Grape Strike; during March and April
18of 1966, he and a band of strikers embarked upon a 340-mile
19Peregrinacion (Pilgrimage) from Delano to the steps of the
20California state capitol in Sacramento to draw national
21attention to the suffering of farm workers; as a result of the
22march and a four-month boycott, Schenley Vineyards negotiated
23an agreement with NFWA, the first genuine union contract
24between a grower and farm workers' union in United States



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1history; and
2    WHEREAS, Cesar Chavez's success with the NFWA continued
3throughout the late 1960s, with a successful boycott at the
4DiGiorgio Fruit Corporation and a strike at the Giumarra
5Vineyards Corporation; in 1966, the NFWA and the Filipino
6American AWOC merged to form the United Farm Workers, which
7affiliated with the AFL-CIO; in 1968, Cesar fasted for 25 days
8to rededicate his movement to nonviolence; United States
9Senator Robert F. Kennedy joined over 8,000 farm workers and
10supporters at a mass where Cesar broke his fast, calling the
11weakened farm labor leader "one of the heroic figures of our
12time"; and
13    WHEREAS, Cesar Chavez's movement continued apace during
14the 1970s, with most California table grape growers signing
15UFW contracts by 1970; after Salinas Valley growers signed
16contracts with the Teamsters Union in the summer of 1970, he
17led a national boycott of lettuce, a decision that led to a
18jail sentence in Salinas, California from December 10 to 24 of
191970; still going strong, the UFW became chartered as an
20independent affiliate by the AFL-CIO in 1972, becoming the
21United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW); and
22    WHEREAS, After a hard-fought battle with the California
23state government and various growers, Cesar Chavez and the UFW



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1managed to pass the landmark Agricultural Labor Relations Act
2in June of 1975, which guaranteed California farm workers the
3right to organize and bargain with their employers; under his
4leadership, the United Farm Workers of America won hundreds of
5labor elections across the nation during 1975 and 1976; and
6    WHEREAS, The number of farm workers protected by UFW
7contracts grew to about 45,000 by the early 1980s; Republican
8George Deukmejian was elected California governor in 1982 with
9$1 million in grower campaign contributions; under Governor
10Deukmajian's leadership, the California Agricultural Labor
11Relations Board ceased enforcement of the Agricultural Labor
12Relations Act, forcing Cesar Chavez to declare a third grape
13boycott in 1984; and
14    WHEREAS, In 1986, 61-year old Cesar Chavez kicked off the
15"Wrath of Grapes" campaign to draw public attention to the
16pesticide poisoning of grape workers and their children; the
17campaign included a 36 day public fast in Delano, California,
18his last and longest-running; and
19    WHEREAS, In 1992, Cesar Chavez, working with UFW First
20Vice President Arturo Rodriguez, led vineyard walkouts in the
21Coachella and San Joaquin valleys, resulting in the first
22industry-wide pay hike in eight years for grape workers; this
23feat proved to be the last for this brave pioneer, who passed



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1away in his sleep on April 23, 1993 in the midst of defending
2the UFW against a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought against
3the union; and
4    WHEREAS, On August 8, 1994, President Bill Clinton
5posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom, America's highest
6civilian honor, to Cesar Chavez in honor of his everlasting
7contributions to society; and
8    WHEREAS, Today, the UFW continues its vigilant protection
9of its many union members; the union remains strong, with
10undeniable strength in numerous states such as California,
11Florida, and Washington, a fact that would certainly make
12Cesar Chavez proud; therefore, be it
15we honor the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez and his
16contributions to the downtrodden of our society; and be it
18    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
19presented to the family of Cesar Chavez as a symbol of our
20great esteem and respect.