I stand in solidarity with VT dairy farmworkers and pledge to educate, organize and mobilize my community to build public support for the Milk with Dignity Program, which holds corporations profiting from the dairy industry accountable ensuring they source their milk in a way that guarantees:
- Farmworkers human rights are respected; AND
- Farmers receive a premium price for their milk in order to alleviate downward pressure on the farm
Hundreds of VT dairy workers came together to build this campaign by defining what a dignified workplace would look like and peeling back the layers of the systemic problems we face:
- Exclusion and No Enforcement: Farmworkers are excluded from fundamental labor, health and safety protections and there is little to no real enforcement of the insufficient laws that exist
- No Voice No Rights: A sustainable food system must be fueled by truly sustainable and dignified jobs and workers must lead in order to create this change
- Profiting from Downward Pressure on Farms: Milk prices drop below costs of production about 3 ½ out of every 12 months placing downward pressure on dairy farmers’ income and worker’s wages; corporations profit from this downward pressure and therefore they can and should be held responsible to fix it;
- Corporations Avoid Accountability: Too many corporations avoid real accountability to workers in their supply chain by shopping around or creating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives which exclude real worker participation; fail to educate workers to know and enforce their rights; lack real enforcement mechanisms; and seek to dictate the conditions of their own oversight and auditing.
These systemic problems led Vermont dairy workers to design, build and launch the Milk with Dignity Campaign and Program by expanding a new model for 21st Century supply chain organizing called Worker-Driven Social Responsibility (WSR) based on the groundbreaking success of the CIW’s Fair Food Program.
The Milk with Dignity Program has 5 essential elements:
* Farmworker-Authored Code of Conduct: farmworkers’ definition of the human right to work with dignity and fair housing;
* Farmworker Education: Guarantees workers’ the right to receive education about their rights under the Code of Conduct;
* Third Party Monitoring Body: Monitors, enforces and audits farmer compliance with Code of Conduct; receives worker complaints and addresses grievances; creates improvement plans to address violations; enforces market consequences for non-compliance
* Economic relief: Participating corporations restore economic justice in the supply chain paying an extra premiumdirectly to both farmworkers AND farmers
* Legally-binding Agreements: Participating Corporations (Ben & Jerry's) sign a legally binding agreement that defines the program as an enforceable contract under the law
I Pledge my support to partner with Migrant Justice to hold corporations accountable by sourcing their milk in compliance with the human rights of dairy workers AND providing much needed economic relief to dairy farmers.