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04.21 We’re altering the climate so severely that we’ll soon face apocalyptic consequences. Here are 9 last-ditch ways we could hack the planet to reverse that trend.[Hail Mary pass ideas]

04.18 'We Can Be Whatever We Have the Courage to See': New Video From AOC Envisions a #GreenNewDeal Future [7:35 video]

04.18 'Decades of denial': major report finds New Zealand's environment is in serious trouble

04.17 Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study

04.16 'That Backfired': Watch Bernie Sanders Counter Right-Wing Talking Point, Make Case for Medicare for All on Fox News

04.16 Cause of cancer is written into DNA of tumours, scientists find, creating a 'black box' for origin of disease

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04.15 What It Was Like to Have a Baby in Sweden

04.14 'Shut the country down': British climate group Extinction Rebellion heads to US

04.13 With Youth Climate Actions Backed by Leading Experts, Latest Round of Protests Highlights Call for Bold and Urgent Action

04.11 Will You Rise Up for Climate Justice Next Week? Don’t Let Fatalism and Cynicism Hold You Back

04.11 300+ Groups to Congress: #GreenNewDeal 'Must Transform Our Food System and Revitalize Rural America'

04.10 Glaciers and arctic ice are vanishing. Time to get radical before it's too late [Willfully ignorant "conservatives" and corporately-bribed liberals diddle self-obsessively while life on earth dies]

04.10 Is there a beautiful, briny solution to the world’s clean water crisis?

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04.08 Himalayan glaciers on the eve of destruction

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04.23 'A Really Exciting Proposal': Elizabeth Warren's Education Overhaul Would Wipe Out Student Debt, Provide Free Public College

04.23 To Reassert Congressional War Authority, Sanders Demands Vote to Override Trump Veto on Yemen


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04.21 Pentagon Spending Set to Hit Near-Record Levels, But 'Establishment Says We Can't Afford' Progressive Policies

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04.19 No One Listens to the President

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04.19 Mueller report: press secretary Sarah Sanders admitted to lying to reporters

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04.23 To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

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04.21 Decrying 'Toxic Alliance' of Macron and Polluters, Climate Campaigners Stage One of France's Largest Ever Acts of Civil Disobedience

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  Maryland is Indebted to César Chávez’s Legacy
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Maryland is Indebted to César Chávez’s Legacy

by Daniela Dwyer
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Through Chávez’s union, and in conjunction with community and legal services advocates, many improvements in farmworkers' rights have been achieved.
Why should Maryland declare March 31 César Chávez Day?

Although the efforts of Chávez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, focused primarily on the West Coast, he influenced farmworker unions to form in Texas and Ohio—and his impact continues to be felt in smaller agricultural states such as Maryland.

In 2000, the Federal Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Worker Study (NAWS) found that approximately 10,000 migrant workers reside annually in Maryland. Many of the migrant workers are lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens who arrive from other states, such as Florida and Texas.

An additional 1,000 farmworkers perform agricultural work in Maryland through lawful participation in a federal guest-worker visa program.

Regardless of lawful immigration status, the vast majority of farmworkers in Maryland face harsh living and working conditions, both of which remain largely dictated by their employers.

Today’s migrant farmworkers remain generally non-English speaking, are often destitute due to low wage rates and high levels of wage non-payment, work in America’s second-most dangerous occupation, and are geographically isolated from most social services.

Through Chávez’s union, and in conjunction with community and legal services advocates, many improvements in farmworkers' rights have been achieved.

Migrant workers remain a population extremely vulnerable to exploitation.

For example, in 1975, Chávez was instrumental in working with California Rural Legal Assistance to obtain a decision from the California Supreme Court banning the “short-handled hoe” as an Unfair Labor Tool. However, migrant workers remain a population extremely vulnerable to exploitation.

Through its statewide outreach, Maryland Legal Aid has witnessed the long hours temporary migrant workers are required to perform. There are migrant workers in every Maryland county.

Maryland’s robust seasonal economies demonstrate that migrant workers in the agricultural, crab, landscaping and hospitality industries come at local employers’ requests to perform hard, necessary work.

Crab house, horse and dairy workers often begin work at sunrise; pack house, nursery and field workers often end long after sunset. Almost all lack health benefits, sick days or personal leave, much less paid leave.

Farmworkers in Maryland would be unlikely to receive any leave on March 31st if it were declared a day of commemoration. Nevertheless, the symbolic recognition of Chávez’s efforts to improve their living and working conditions is broadly inspiring.

Designating March 31st as César Chávez Day will provide an important opportunity for all Marylanders to reflect upon workers’ contributions and the holiday’s call to service towards others.

Last year, President (then Senator) Obama stated on Mar. 31, 2008, in the Los Angeles Times that, “As farmworkers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what César Chávez accomplished so many years ago ... [a]nd we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. It's time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union.”

America at its best is not the history of a few, but the stories of us all. Maryland gave birth to our national anthem, and has always been a vital part of American history. It should join the charge to remember all of our nation’s heroes.

I urge Maryland to join President Obama in remembering the unsung legacy of César Chávez.

Daniela Dwyer is supervising attorney of Maryland Legal Aid's Farmworker Program.

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This story was published on April 1, 2009.

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