Today, The Fairness Project celebrates the life and work of labor leader, community organizer and civil rights activist César Chávez.

Chávez began raising the alarm about the abysmal conditions for farm workers through activism as early as the 1950s, and by 1962, he had founded the National Farm Workers Association. Chávez is known for his activism and leadership, including strikes, fasts and marches. Chávez spent decades fighting for labor rights, uniting tens of thousands of farm workers behind the cause. Their work is responsible for not only increasing the public’s awareness of labor issues, but also many of the workplace protections Americans enjoy today.

While significant progress has been made thanks to Chávez’ work, we still have a long way to go to secure equity and dignity for all workers and continue his legacy. Millions of people in the United States work full-time but are paid poverty wages and lack essential benefits. Agricultural workers earn an average of $25,840 per year. Despite being physically demanding work with significant health risks, only 47% have health insurance (compared with 91.5% of the general population) and the majority do not have access to paid sick leave. These essential workers are the backbone of our food supply and deserve to be treated as such.