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Referendum E would designate March 31st as Cesar Chavez Day and make it a legal holiday for state employees.
Cesar Chavez was a nationally respected voice for social and economic justice for farm workers, especially Hispanics. He died in 1993.
Under current Colorado law, March 31 is an "optional" holiday in his honor. State agencies are required to be open, but employees can take the day off with pay if they work another weekday holiday.
Supporters of Referendum E feel Chavez should be honored with a state holiday to focus the public's attention on his contribution to American history and culture.
Opponents say people can honor Chavez without taking the day off, and a new holiday will cost the state more than $10million a year in lost employee productivity. Right now, state employees have 10 holidays, which is one less than the average in other states and one more than employees in the private sector.
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Cesar E. Chavez
- Cesar Estrada Chavez founded and led the first successful farm workers' union in U.S. history.
- Cesar was born March 31, 1927, on a small farm near Yuma, AZ.
- Cesar left school after the eighth grade to help support his family.
- He joined the U.S. Navy in 1945, and served in the western Pacific during the end of World War II.
- In 1952, Cesar was an organizer with the Community Service Organization (CSO), a self-help group that battled racial and economic discrimination against residents. He opened up chapters in California and Arizona.
- In 1962 he resigned from the CSO, due to their lack of interest in the farm workers needs. He then founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA).
- In 1968, he organized a 25 day fast to reaffirm the commitment to non-violent demonstrations. Senator Robert F. Kennedy called Cesar “one of the heroic figures of our time.”
- Cesar died on April 23, 1993, at the age of 66. More than 40,000 people participated in Cesar’s funeral.
A collection of Web reports contributed to this report.