16 Cities Across the Nation Call on Ben & Jerry's to Take Next Step Towards Ensuring Dairy Worker's Rights Are Respected in Its Supply Chain
Posted Sat, 06/20/2015 - 8:06am
***November 2016 Campaign Update: Migrant Justice and Ben & Jerry's agreed in May 2015 to work together to operationalize the Milk with Dignity Program in the Ben & Jerry's Supply Chain and have been working steadily towards that goal ever since!
FARMWORKERS ANNOUNCE STEP FORWARD AS BEN & JERRY’S COMMITS TO NEGOTIATE PARTICIPATION IN “MILK WITH DIGNITY PROGRAM”
Burlington, VT, 6/20/15, 12pm--Over 40 dairy farmworkers and dozens of community supporters gathered at the Migrant Justice office, in the old north end of Burlington, preparing to march to Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop on Church St to call on the ice cream company to join a new worker’s rights initiative--the Milk with Dignity Program. Before the march got underway Migrant Justice organizer Abel Luna broke the exciting campaign news to the big crowd, “Just yesterday Ben & Jerry's was in touch with Migrant Justice. They say they’ve heard the voices and hardships of farmworkers and have committed to work with Migrant Justice to negotiate an agreement in order to adopt the Milk with Dignity Program into their Northeast supply chain! So today, we are gathered here to recognize this significant step forward. At the same time we must continue to build a movement to demonstrate that people across the country are rallying to ensure that Ben & Jerry's walks with workers all the way to the finish line by signing the Milk with Dignity Agreement--because our human rights cannot wait!” Today, Migrant Justice also released an "Open Letter to Ben & Jerry's" signed by human rights and social justice organizations across the nation (available here).
The Burlington action, called for by Vermont dairy farmworkers, is part of a recent national outpouring of public support for Migrant Justice’s Milk with Dignity Campaign. As farmworker and leader Enrique Balcazar shared, "We have actions planned across the country in over 16 cities-- from Burlington, VT to San Francisco, to Naples, Florida--to demonstrate there is a big movement of support. We will continue our campaign and look forward to working towards an agreement between Ben & Jerry's and farmworkers that brings dignity and rights to my community."
Farmworkers and their allies celebrated this step forward in the campaign by marching through the streets of Burlington and eventually gathering at Ben & Jerry’s Church St Scoop Shop with a marching band and signs reading “Human Rights Cannot Wait” and “Sign the Milk with Dignity Agreement.”. Representatives from the farmworker community, labor groups, students, and faith communities then delivered a card to the store manager directed towards CEO Jostein Solheim acknowledging the recent step forward by Ben & Jerry's and calling on him to continue working with farmworkers to reach a legally-binding agreement that will create a new day of dignity and rights for dairy workers in its supply chain.
Kim Erno, a Lutheran Pastor in the dairy region of Franklin County who works closely with farmworkers, joined the march and rally and shared, “It is amazing to see the moral power and tremendous success of this farmworker movement, that in a short time has clearly changed Vermont for the better. We are hopeful that Ben & Jerry’s will take the next big step on the road to human rights by negotiating a strong agreement that ensures dairy workers are respected in its supply chain.”
The Milk with Dignity Program is a Worker-Driven Social Responsibility (WSR) program created by Migrant Justice in Ben & Jerry’s home state of Vermont, designed to ensure dignified working and living conditions on dairy farms and based on the success of the Fair Food Program.
June 20th Milk with Dignity Actions will take place in: Burlington, VT; Times Square, New York; White Plains, NY; South Deerfield, Mass; Washington DC (on 21st); Hollywood, Fla; Naples, Florida; Nashville, TN; Athens, Georgia; San Francisco, CA; Portland, Maine; Kennenbunkport, Maine; Charlotte, North Carolina; Minneapolis, MN, Atlanta, Georgia, Boston, Mass
Click here for more information on the Milk With Dignity program and actions updates.