Vermont Business Magazine Vermont dairy workers will lead what they believe will be hundreds of supporters through Burlington in a march to Ben & Jerry’s flagship store on Church Street. Marchers are calling on the iconic ice cream company to end human rights abuses in its dairy supply chain by signing onto Migrant Justice’s Milk with Dignity program. The march will then head to the US federal building, with recently-detained immigrant leader Enrique Balcazar leading denunciations of President Trump’s attacks on working people.
Where and When: Monday, May 1st, Burlington, VT
Kick-off rally, 294 N. Winooski Ave., 12:15
March down North and South Winooski Ave., along Main St., and up Church St.
Rally at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream scoop shop (36 Church St.), 1:15pm (estimated)
Rally at US Federal Building (11 Elmwood Ave.), 2pm (estimated)
Who: Migrant Justice is a Vermont-based organization founded and led by immigrant farmworkers to organize for human rights. The Vermont Human Rights Council is sponsoring the day of action and includes: Migrant Justice, Vermont Worker's Center, 350VT, Green Mountain Self-Advocates, VT Center for Independent Living, VT Interfaith Action, VT United Electrical Workers (UE), United Academics, Pride Center of Vermont, Rising Tide Vermont, Green Mountain Central Labor Council, Peace and Justice Center, and Justice for All. The event is co-sponsored by the VT AFL-CIO and Rights and Democracy.
Background: Migrant Justice is one of hundreds of immigrant rights organizations across the country calling for actions on MayDay connecting the nation’s rich history of immigrant-led worker movements to the current emerging movements uniting to stop Trump’s crackdown on immigrant workers.
In 2014, Vermont dairy workers in Migrant Justice developed the “Milk with Dignity” program to advance human rights and ensure dignified working conditions in the dairy industry. In June, 2015 Ben & Jerry’s signed a written commitment to work with Migrant Justice to join Milk with Dignity. The commitment was heralded in the New York Times and elsewhere as a positive step for a faltering industry rife with poor conditions for workers.
“We are calling on Ben & Jerry’s to make good on its 2015 promise to join and implement the Milk with Dignity program,” said Migrant Justice organizer Abel Luna. “The ball is in their court. The program is ready to go; all that’s missing is CEO Jostein Solheim’s signature on the dotted line. Until Ben & Jerry’s follows through on its commitment to join this program, consumers around the world should know: B&J has absolutely no legitimate claim to sourcing their milk in compliance with the human rights of the dairy workers who put the cream in their world-famous ice cream.”
Migrant Justice spokesperson Enrique “Kike” Balcazar, recently targeted and arrested by ICE, explained, “We are marching to Trump’s federal building because the crackdown on workers is not just inhumane; it forces workers across the country -- and here in Vermont -- to endure abusive and inhumane workplace conditions instead of standing up and fighting for our rights. MayDay is a day to celebrate and defend this nation’s long and proud history of immigrant worker’s struggle for dignity, rights, and respect.”
The MayDay actions follow a surge in recent campaign activity including a call-in day that flooded Ben & Jerry’s phone lines on 3/31 (the birthday of pioneering farmworker organizer César Chávez); a dozen actions at scoop shops across the nation on Ben & Jerry’s “Free Cone Day;” and a two day picket of the company’s Board of Directors meeting, with 11 Vermont organizations delivering letters demanding implementation of the Milk with Dignity Program. The campaign has been covered extensively in local and national press.
Source: Migrant Justice 5.1.2017