SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. (SER National) and the SER Network of Affiliates are marking Cesar Chavez Day 2023 by affirming their strong continued commitment to the driving principles in Cesar Chavez’ forty years of organizing work as a labor advocate and social justice leader. In his 1984 address to the California Commonwealth Club, Chavez told the audience, “…we are filled with hope and encouragement. We have looked into the future, and the future is ours!”
“Those stirring words embodied the fire that burned in Chavez’ life-long dedication to empowering America’s farmworkers towards a better life through job conditions and economic opportunities,” says Ignacio Salazar, SER National President, and Chief Executive Officer. “We, too, are dedicated to creating gateways through economic equity, our cornerstone mission, as we uplift the lives of more than a million people a year. Cesar reminded us, ‘you cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.’ So too, SER National and our SER Network of Affiliates undertake with our program participants, achieving lasting transformation through employment redevelopment, training, and an array of related services for their tomorrows and their families,” says Salazar.
Cesar Chavez is credited with leading the way for employment that paid at least a minimum wage and labor contracts that set out more humane working conditions, including potable drinking water, shaded rest areas for breaks, and restrooms. He also recalled his own experience when he dropped out of school at the age of 13 years, so he could join his family working in the fields. Later, he led the fight for reforms in child labor laws that included a prohibition against children being truant from school to work because they were migrants. At its peak, the United Farm Workers (UFW), led by Chavez, secured the support of an estimated 17 million Americans in calling for safer labor standards and actions to bring farm workers out of generational poverty.
“In each of history’s three waves of migrations across our country by Latino immigrants since the early 1900s — through Texas, California, and deserts in-between, seeking a better economic opportunity has been the driving force,” says Salazar. “Today, La Familia de SER continues to reach and serve countless descendants of those itinerant families, many of whom still benefit from the Si Se Puede / Yes We Can advocacy Chavez led, with Dolores Huerta. Through technology, training, and a comprehensive safety net of services, our work is the future that Chavez dreamed of in his day. Yes, we are proud to declare, as Robert Kennedy did, we stand taller because we marched with Cesar!” said Salazar.