At last, California school renamed after Fil-Am labor heroes | Global News

At last, California school renamed after Fil-Am labor heroes

/ 12:35 AM August 20, 2015


Filipino American labor heroes Larry Itliong (left) and Philip Vera Cruz.

 UNION CITY, California — Finally, after a long wait, the first U.S. school to be named after two Filipino American labor leaders will become a reality after major stakeholders finalized the timeline and the work plan for the renaming of the Alvarado Middle School to Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School in Union City.

“The good news is that renaming is sure to take place and there is no more problem,” announced Union City council member Pat Gacoscos.


“Now we are just making sure that there also will be no more problems with funding because the proponents like us are supposed to take care of that,” she added.


Alameda County District 2 Supervisor Richard Valle and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 595helped a lot with this commitment, Gacoscos reported.

pat gacoscos

Union City Council Member Pat Gacoscos

richard valle

District 2 Supervisor Richard Valle

“We welcome Supervisor Valle’s and IBEW’s efforts because they will augur well for the renaming efforts coming not only from Filipino proponents but also from non-Filipinos like them,” she explained.

Based on merits

That will also make clear that the renaming of the school is based on the merits of Itliong and Vera Cruz, who were with Cesar Chavez in the labor movement, and “not just because of the lobbying efforts of fellow Filipinos, which constitute a big part of Union City,” Gacoscos clarified.

She also reported that funds raised now amount to more than $50,000, which is more than enough for the project that includes the construction of a monument, signage, stationary and envelopes, business cards, ink, checks, evacuation maps and library books, among others things, with the extra fund to be used for the celebration, remembrance and education about Itliong and Vera Cruz. The estimated total cost for the name change is $46,225.

The main funders are Supervisor Valle, who committed $30,000 from his office, IBEW 595 with contributions that include free labor and construction materials aside from $20,000 and New Haven Pilipino American Society for Education (NHPASE), which will contribute $10,000.


Construction to begin

A side account will be put up by NHPASE for the donations. The construction itself is expected to be finished in a month or two at the most.

jim navarro

Union City Vice Mayor Jim Navarro

Union City Vice Mayor Jim Navarro added that the school year opening is coming up, making administrators and teachers so busy that they won’t probably do the renaming until the January-February 2016 period, after the school year has started.

“The New Haven Unified School District (NHUSD) also has to figure out by consulting with its lawyers who will be doing the actual construction, whether IBEW members themselves or a contractor designated by the New Haven Unified School District,” Navarro said.

The IBEW 595 union is pushing that they do the construction as they have done at Conley-Caraballo High School in Hayward,” Navarro shared.

To heal divisions

Meanwhile, a community planning committee will try to heal divisions in the constituency resulting from a divisive renaming process by reaching out to those who opposed the renaming.

NHPASE, FAJ and Itliong-Vera Cruz middle school are partnering to have a celebration and day of remembrance and education about Itliong and Vera Cruz on October 23r at the middle school.

“I feel very strongly that the two champions of labor, Larry Itliong and Philip Vera-Cruz, both of them helped to create the United Farm Workers (UFW) Union, and the work that they did in the fields is very admirable. I have a great deal of respect for their sacrifices and I think that they rose to be recognized as the champions for the working people,” Valle explained.

Large Filipino population

Valle, a founder and currently president of the Tri-CED Community Recycling, California’s largest non-profit recycling organization, added, “It is very important for Union City to have the first school to be named after two Filipino heroes because Union City and nearby Hayward have a large Filipino-American population and those are in my district.”

Valle also said that the renaming is another way of recognizing that “the Filipino community is a leader in education, in worker’s struggle and in making contributions to the community, and not expecting anything for it.”

The name change honors Filipino American labor leaders Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, who were farm worker organizers and labor leaders.

Itliong founded the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, which initiated the 1965 Delano Grape Strike later joined by Cesar Chavez’s organization, the National Farm Workers Association. The two organizations eventually merged, forming the United Farm Workers (UFW).

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TAGS: Alameda County District 2 Supervisor Richard Valle, Delano grape strike, Filipino American labor heroes, Union City Vice Mayor Jim Navarro

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