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Mar 5, 2014 1:37 AM by Sean Mooney

Tucson's Cesar Chavez holiday includes city payroll costs

TUCSON - The Tucson City Council voted on Tuesday to give city employees another day off, all to honor a man who championed rights for workers here in Arizona and around the world.
The city will soon celebrate Cesar E. Chavez day. But this new holiday comes at a price with an estimated price tag of $500,000 in payroll costs.

United Farm Workers Co-Founder, Delores Huerta, who attended the meeting, says honoring a man she believes helped so many is priceless, "To have a holiday for Cesar Chavez is to bring dignity to workers and there is no price for that, there is no price for dignity to workers."

The city council vote was unanimous. Councilwoman Regina Romero, who proposed the additional holiday, says that despite a reported $30 million city deficit and the cost to taxpayers for another day off for employees, it is something that needs to happen, "It's the right thing to do and the time to do it."

It was initially proposed that Cesar E. Chavez day replace one of the existing holidays, the floating/birthday employee gets to choose holiday. That was quickly shot down. But councilman Paul Cunningham said in a statement that the benefits will come in other ways besides money saying, "Twenty years ago Arizona was boycotted for failing to pass a MLK holiday, and it would be a failure of our council to allow history to repeat itself. This action will pay for itself several times over in economics opportunities gained as Tucson is recognized as a place that embraces many cultures."

Regina Romero also believes Tucson's new holiday will not cost the city any jobs, "I don't think, and hopefully none of my colleagues think that, $420,000 is going to lay anyone off."

Cesar E. Chavez Day will be celebrated in the city of Tucson on his birthday, beginning March 31, 2015.

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