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Cesar Chavez Day proposal unanimously passes committee

Cesar Chavez talks to striking Salinas Valley farm workers at a rally in 1979. (Paul Sakuma / Associated Press / March 7, 1979)

Cesar Chavez talks to striking Salinas Valley farm workers at a rally in 1979. (Paul Sakuma / Associated Press / March 7, 1979)

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee Common Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee on Wednesday, March 26th passed unanimously a proposal that would allow city employees to take off on March 31st annually as a holiday observing the birthday of American labor and civil rights champion Cesar Chavez. The proposal now goes to the full Common Council.

Three states currently consider Cesar Chavez Day to be a holiday.

Milwaukee’s proposed ordinance is authored by Alderman Tony Zielinski and co-sponsored by Alderman José G. Pérez, Alderman Bob Donovan, Alderman Nik Kovac and Alderman Robert W. Puente.

Alderman Zielinski said he believes the Chavez birthday holiday measure is an excellent way to honor the legacy “of a man who is a true hero to all working Americans.”

“It behooves us to set aside an optional employee holiday in honor of Cesar Chavez, who helped bring national attention to the unsafe and unfair working conditions of farm workers, and inspired millions of people of all races to join in the nonviolent movement for farm workers’ rights,” Alderman Zielinski.

The proposed legislation designates March 31st annually as “Cesar E. Chavez Day” in observance of the birthday of Cesar Chavez and establishes that day as an optional holiday for city employees.

Upon authorization from a department head, an employee may take Cesar E. Chavez Day as a paid holiday in lieu of any other paid holiday that same calendar year.

Zielinski’s plan falls short of making it a paid day off for city workers. That’s a plan Zielinski says he can see happening down the road.

“I think this is a great first step. (Cesar Chavez) has made a tremendous impact on people’s lives,” Zielinski said.

There is a similar proposal in Madison.

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