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Opinion | Cesar Chavez Did Not Need This Work to Be Merciless

Eladio Bobadilla was 11 when he moved from Mexico to Delano, the place his dad and mom labored within the grape vineyards. Undocumented and pissed off by his lack of choices, Mr. Bobadilla nearly dropped out of highschool; ultimately, he turned a historian of immigrants’ rights.

In some methods, he famous final week in a discuss Mr. Chavez, circumstances within the fields are worse than they have been a long time in the past. In actual {dollars}, many farmworkers earn much less now than they did within the Seventies. Earlier than Mr. Bobadilla’s dad and mom retired, they needed to carry house the soiled trays they used to choose grapes in the course of the week and wash them on their day without work. They didn’t know, nor did their son, that was in opposition to the legislation; they knew solely that they’d lose their jobs if they didn’t comply.

“The battle continues,” Mr. Bobadilla stated. “It’s nonetheless a deeply exploitive sort of labor. It doesn’t should be undignified work. It doesn’t should be merciless work. It’s all the time been tough. However it doesn’t should be merciless.”

On the day President Biden took workplace, the White Home launched a photograph displaying a bust of Cesar Chavez prominently displayed within the Oval Workplace. The primary woman is anticipated to attend an occasion on Thursday, Mr. Chavez’s birthday, a California state vacation, on the outdated U.F.W. headquarters in Delano, now a historic monument.

Symbols are necessary. However they don’t seem to be sufficient. Simply because the legacy of Mr. Chavez must be greater than the identify of the Delano highschool that Mayor Osorio attended, the commitments to “fairness” and “a brand new regular” have to imply greater than tributes to the bravery of important staff.

Maybe the administration ought to look to not the previous however to new fashions, just like the worker-driven applications established by the Coalition of Immokalee Staff and the Honest Meals Program, which have made actual strides for staff in Florida.

It will likely be as much as the following era, the one Mr. Chavez presciently foresaw, to make change, not simply within the cities but additionally within the fields. To not recreate failed visitor employee applications, however to seek out methods to carry dignity and a residing wage to the tens of millions of American farmworkers.

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