Cesar Chavez

Tell us what you did
to help Cesar's cause

"Cesar Chavez and Detroit"

Cesar Chavez and Detroit

There were boycott offices all over the country. I worked in the Detroit one in the 70s. Cesar would come in and out of town to meet with the boycott committees, which i was part of, along with my grandmother and parents. My parents supported the grape and lettuce boycotts and we would go to stores and ask managers to stop carrying certain products.
Cesar would tell us that we were making history. He would tell us that we were part of a movement that was larger than any of us and that it would last beyond us. We worked with a lot of religious people; nuns and priests and rabbis, and others, and we worked with a lot of social activists who were not relisious.
He told us, in a room at one of our events- me and Cesar and Baldemar Velazquez and Justo Hernandez and a few other people that he regretted getting a law passed that would include farmworkers in the labor relations act.
The Agricultural Labor Relations Act would be used against workers if it passed, as it did in California. If a law depended on those in office, it would be up to the good will of those in temporarily in office to carry out the will of the people at the time. The intention of the law could be manipulated to be used against you if you codify into law something you could not control. Thus, the farmworkers were not protected by the laws governing the workplace, so they could not be held liable for the same things as protected workers. Such as a secondary boycott. Cesar convinced us that we did not want this law for Michigan or Ohio at that time. To date, we have no prohibitions on boycotts for agricultural workers, but Cesar died during the lawsuit against the UFW by Bruce Church, Inc, for profits lost due to the boycott.
The lesson Cesar taught me lead me to be arrested last week in Detroit at the city council meeting where the council voted on a contract that we will be stuck with regardless of what happens to the law. If crooks get in, they can do what they want, and they have.
I will be forever grateful for the vision and courage of those like Cesar who taught a generation of us to stand up for what is right no matter who won’t and no matter what the consequences.