West Valley City • Labor organizer Cesar Chavez risked his life to make conditions better for working men and women, Utah AFL-CIO President Dale Cox said.
On Thursday, his sacrifices were honored in West Valley City with the dedication of Cesar Chavez Drive. A stretch of 2320 South, from 1000 West to Redwood Road, will have the commemorative name of the United Farm Workers founder.
Cox, noting that Chavez fought against the use of pesticides that were harming farm workers, described him as a "great, great labor hero and a great American."
Chavez was a migrant farm worker who, along with Dolores Huerta, founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. He died in 1993 at the age of 66.
The request to name a street after Chavez was made by the Utah AFL-CIO, which is headquartered at the Union Labor Center campus just north of 2320 South.
Archie Archuleta, president of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, said Thursday was a fitting time to dedicate the street: It was the day after the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic "I Have a Dream" speech and a few days before Labor Day.
Archuleta said both Chavez and King believed in non-violence. The labor leader took on the dangerous job of organizing workers, he said, and led a "righteous struggle" to effect change through strikes and boycotts.
The street officially will remain 2320 South, with Cesar Chavez Drive as an additional, commemorative name.
State Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, described the community as "the home of working families.
"This is the perfect place for a street named after a great man," she said.
West Valley City Councilman Corey Rushton said the city doesn't rename streets lightly. "I hope people will remember as they drive up this street how much we value hard work," he said.