Retired union president Salcido dies
He marched with Cesar Chavez, led Fresno group to serve workers.
By Lisa Aleman-Padilla
The Fresno Bee
(Published Tuesday, July, 23, 2002)


Marcello Salcido, retired president of the United Food and Commercial
Workers Union in Fresno, Local 126, died Friday of a heart attack while
visiting family in Grass Valley.

He was 64.

"He was just a wonderful man," said his son, Robert Salcido. "He was loved
by many."

Born in Reedley in 1938 to migrant farmworker parents, Mr. Salcido spent
much of his youth working in the fields and in a garment factory in Sanger.
While attending Reedley College, he worked as a part-time sign painter
and gardener.

In 1958, he began an apprenticeship as a meat cutter for a local Reedley
grocery store. Six years later, he moved to Fresno with his wife, Barbara,
and sons John and Robert to work for an independent grocery chain. He
became a member of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union, Local 126, that
same year.

In 1980, after serving for nine years as a meat cutter representative for
the local union, Mr. Salcido became the first Hispanic to become president
of the union. He retired from the position in 1996, after serving five
unopposed terms. Upon his retirement, the union became known as the
United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1288.

In 1991, Mr. Salcido was selected by Lane Kirkland, former head of the
AFL-CIO, to represent the American labor movement during an
international labor conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference
was sponsored by the United Nations.

Mr. Salcido marched with United Farm Workers co-founder Cesar Chavez
many times, and provided food, office space and money whenever strikes
or marches were being organized, said Arturo S. Rodriguez, United Farm
Worker president.

After Chavez's death in 1993, Mr. Salcido served as an honor guard with
actor Martin Sheen and the Rev. Jesse Jackson during a preburial
ceremony near Delano.

"We considered him a good friend and ally," Rodriguez said. "We will
always remember Marcello as a real fighter on behalf of working
families."

Through the years, Mr. Salcido never failed to demonstrate his dedication
to the workers he represented, Rodriguez said.

Mr. Salcido's son Robert agreed, adding that his father spent many
sleepless nights in factories, slaughterhouses and poultry plants across
the Valley in an effort to better serve workers.

"He's a giant among Mexican-Americans," said Ben Benavidez, national
president of the Mexican American Political Association. "I would equate
him with Cesar Chavez. He would fight to the finish for any worker."

A rosary for Mr. Salcido will be recited at 6 p.m. Thursday at St. Anthony's
Church in Reedley. Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at St.
Anthony's, with a graveside service to immediately follow at the Reedley
Cemetery.

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