On October 3rd, 2017, dozens of farmworkers stood alongside the CEO of a major global dairy company on a crowded street in Burlington, Vermont and announced a monumental achievement. For the first time in history, the immigrant workers who milk cows and scrape stalls – those who work at the bottom of the supply chain – had partnered with a corporation at the top: together they signed a contract making Ben & Jerry’s the first company to join the Milk with Dignity Program.
Developed by immigrant farmworkers in the state of Vermont, the Milk with Dignity Program brings together workers, farmers, and industry leaders to address persistent labor abuses in the dairy industry. The Program has adapted to dairy the innovative “Worker-driven Social Responsibility” model created by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their groundbreaking Fair Food Program. This model succeeds by calling on corporations to take responsibility for conditions in their supply chains and by offering solutions via binding, worker-designed programs with clear enforcement mechanisms.
On the day that Ben & Jerry’s joined the Milk with Dignity Program, farmworker leader Enrique “Kike” Balcazar announced “a new day in dairy, a new day for human rights.” This report is being released on the third anniversary of the initial agreement, and it documents the first two years of the Program’s implementation.
The dramatic and concrete changes detailed in this report demonstrate the power of clear, enforceable standards and rigorous monitoring processes. This transformation has been made possible through the financial investment of a participating buyer and the application of real, market-based incentives and consequences. The movement towards accountability represents a marked departure from the industry norms of the past — and from top-down, corporate-led programs purporting to monitor working conditions. However, there is more work to be done.
Read more here.