Reno César Chávez Day I
July 15, 1986

JULY 15, 1986At the microphone, Beth Shay, Secretary-Treasurer of Reno Musicians Local 368, welcomes César Chávez to Reno. To raise funds, Chávez sold signed copies of the Boycott Table Grapes poster like the one on the lectern for $5.00. Former Nevada State AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Blackie Evans still has his. A copy was recently offered for sale on E-Bay for almost $100. The Rev. Whitey Engeseth delivered the invocation, just as he did at Reno César Chávez Day III on March 31, 2004.

(Photo courtesy of Beth and Al Shay.)

Obama pays tribute to late Reno labor leader

THE WAY WE WERE — The above is a recently discovered photo from 1986. Left to right are Kathy Brown, Culinary Union Local 86 office manager; Miguel Contreras, Local 86 Secretary-Treasurer; Local 86 President Bill Uehlein; a lady named Natalie (anyone who knows her last name, please write), and César Chávez. This item was first published in Ahora, northern Nevada's Spanish-English weekly, on March 26, 2008. (UPDATE: On 3-19-2009, President Obama paid tribute to Brother Contreras as he spoke in the L.A. building named after the late labor leader.)

(Photo courtesy of Dan Rusnak, retired business manager of Laborers' Union Local 169.)


Chávez urges Reno to boycott California g
Reno Gazette-Journal 7-16-1986
By Mike Norris/Gazette-Journal

Longtime labor leader
César Chávez urged Reno area consumers Tuesday to protect themselves and improve working conditions for farm workers at the same time by boycotting pesticide-tainted table grapes raised in California.

Reno Mayor Pete Sferrazza reads a proclamation from the City of Reno declaring July 15, 1986, as César Chávez Day in the Biggest Little City in the World.
(Photo courtesy of Dan Rusnak.)

Addressing 130 political, labor and civic activists at an enthusiastic rally in Reno Musicians Building, Chávez condemned grape growers for treating plants with "highly toxic and very carcinogenic" pesticides and subjecting farm workers and their children to the health hazards they cause.

The 59-year-old Arizona native, founder of the nation's first and most successful farm workers' union, charged that oil-based pesticides cling to grapes even after they're washed and are making their way to the American dinner table.

"So we're here in Reno going to the American consumer, the court of last resort," said
Chávez, whose United Farm Workers of America represent 40,000 of California's 250,000 farm workers.

His presentation drew a standing ovation and featured a union-produced film showing birth defects, including missing limbs, which the pesticides allegedly caused among farm workers' children.

His campaign – the third in the more than two decades
Chávez has worked on behalf of farm workers – is called "The Wrath of Grapes."

The first boycott, begun in 1965, gained widespread support and led to California's first collective bargaining agreement for farm workers and the passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act.

But growers charged Tuesday that
Chávez's current campaign is not nearly that successful. Chávez responded: "The boycott hasn't affected the industry yet."

Western Growers Association spokesman Dan Haley said sales of grapes were at record levels this year and
Chávez's popularity among farm workers has been "drastically reduced."

César very intelligently decided to go to points unknown on the East Coast and try to spread the same message he spread 20 years ago in the original boycott," Haley said.

Chávez, Haley added, "is the best thing that has ever happened to us. He has gone so far overboard…that most of the legislators in Sacramento have come back to the growers for any semblance of accuracy" in accounts of conditions on the farms.

Chávez denied the accusations. He called on growers to stop using pesticides known to cause cancer and birth defects, join the union in pesticide-testing of grapes at markets, allow union elections for employees and conduct good-faith contract bargaining.

Chávez is reported to have lost much of his political influence since former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown retired, allowing Republican George Deukmejian to win the California governorship from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.

Chávez condemned the federal Environmental Protection Agency for a decision establishing an allowable pesticide "tolerance" level in grapes. The U.S. now allows more than three times as much pesticide as European countries, he said.

Reno Mayor Pete Sferrazza, endorsed by the Nevada AFL-CIO in his bid for the congressional seat now held by Republican Barbara Vucanovich, joined
Chávez on stage and presented him with a proclamation declaring Tuesday "César Chávez Day" in Reno.

Chavez's speech was sponsored by area labor groups. He was also scheduled to address the western conference of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Copyright © 1986 Reno Gazette-Journal

Click here to read the inside story which the media did not get.

A standing-room-only crowd listens to César Chávez at the Reno Musicians Union Building on July 15, 1986 (Al Shay's birthday). Mustachioed Al Shay may be seen in a white shirt seated at the center-right of this photo. Beth Shay was president of the local at the time and delivered a welcoming address.
(Photo courtesy of Beth and Al Shay)

Trumpeter, band leader, union man Al Shay dies at 90


   THE WAY THEY WERE — César Chávez shakes hands with Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dan Rusnak. At right is Miguel Contreras, who at the time was Business Manager of Reno Culinary Workers Union Local 86. Rusnak went on to win election as business manager of Laborers' Union Local 169 and serve on the Nevada State AFL-CIO executive board. Now retired, he recently earned his degree from the National Labor College George Meany Campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. Mr. Contreras went on to become secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County, Calif., Federation of Labor. (Photo courtesy of Dan Rusnak.)

Contreras, Chávez Day founder, dies


Ahora Spanish/English Newspaper founder Miguel Sepulveda, left, César Chávez and Reno Mayor Pete Sferrazza.




Reno César Chávez Day VIII
March 31, 2010

Reno César Chávez Day VII
March 31, 2009

Reno César Chávez Day VI
March 31, 2008

Reno César Chávez Day V
March 31, 2006

Reno César Chávez Day IV
March 31, 2005

Reno César Chávez Day III
March 31, 2004

Reno César Chávez Day II
March 31, 2003