Washington, DC (PRWEB) October 09, 2012
Yesterday afternoon, President Barack Obama established the César E. Chávez National Monument recognizing the legacy of the workers’ rights champion. The dedication of the monument honoring the farmworker advocate and civil rights leader marks the first time in living memory that a Mexican American has been officially honored.
“As a former farmworker, I found it to be an inspirational event honoring a great civil rights leader and his hard work to protect the farmworkers who harvest our nation’s food,” said Jesús Gamboa, president of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) and Proteus, Inc. Chief Operations Officer.
The historic occasion took place at La Paz in Keene, California, where the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) is headquartered and Chávez lived. It was attended by President Obama; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, an ardent defender of farmworkers; Paul Chávez, the son of the César Chávez; and thousands more, including many notable Latino advocates, farmworkers, and school children, who came to pay homage to the man who made so many sacrifices to ensure safer and more humane working conditions for workers.
Some in the advocacy community have questioned the administration’s actions yesterday, however, given its withdrawal earlier this year of updates Secretary Solis proposed to the safety rules for children employed in agriculture.
“We commend the Obama Administration for establishing this monument, but are still profoundly disappointed in its action in April to pull the updates to the Hazardous Orders for children employed in agriculture. Without those updates, farmworker children’s lives continue to be put in jeopardy harvesting America’s food,” said Norma Flores López, director of AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign and chair of the domestic issues committee for the Child Labor Coalition. “It was a missed opportunity to follow in the footsteps of César Chávez who advocated so persuasively for the protection of the nation’s farmworkers.”
Those rules, which have not been updated in more than 40 years, came after changes were made to the Hazardous Orders for children employed in non-agricultural occupations; those proposed changes were implemented with little fanfare or difficulty.
“While some things have improved for farmworkers over the years, AFOP knows much remains to be done, and I was encouraged to hear the President underscore that point during his speech yesterday,” said Gamboa. “This historic step provides us with motivation for the path forward. In the words of César Chávez, ‘¡Si se puede!’”
The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs is the national federation of non-profit and public agencies that provide training and employment services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers. For additional comment or interview, please contact Ayrianne Parks at (202) 828-6006 x140 or Parks(at)AFOP(dot)org