"...without us there is no production"

The COVID-19 crisis is causing us to reevaluate the meaning of "essential work," as many develop a deeper appreciation for the jobs needed to sustain, nurture, and care for one another. At the same time, the pandemic is laying bare a deeper, long-standing human rights crisis: many of the workers taking care of the rest of society lack the rights and protections to sufficiently take care of themselves.

As farmworker Gregorio put it: "Without us, there is no production. We demand more recognition for dairy workers."

Dairy workers continue to work around the clock to ensure that supermarkets stay stocked and that we all have food on our tables. Most dairy workers in Vermont do not have paid sick leave and many live in crowded housing, at times without access to basic sanitation.

We must keep pushing forward our fight for rights and dignity, even as we adapt to the moment. In line with necessary health precautions, we cut short our Milk with Dignity speaking tour and have indefinitely postponed the planned 4/17 march on the Hannaford headquarters in Maine. The campaign is moving online, with an English-language webinar on Monday at 6pm and a Spanish-language presentation streamed live on our Facebook page on Friday at 7pm.

If you didn't catch us on the Dignity Tour, you can still participate by joining our webinar tomorrow (Monday) night at 6pm. Register now!

While we find new ways to advance the Milk with Dignity campaign and win long-term dignity and human rights for dairy workers, we are also calling on supporters to take immediate action responding to emerging needs.

Take these three actions today!

  1. Sign this petition to governors and federal representatives demanding full labor protections for front line food workers (from the Food Chain Workers Alliance)
  2. Vermonters, let your local representatives know that workers must be the focus of the state's short- and long-term response to this crisis (from the Vermont AFL-CIO)
  3. Immigrants in detention are going on hunger strike to protest unsanitary conditions, while ICE is requesting an additional $800 million to keep incarcerating immigrants during this crisis. Tell Congress to #FreeThemAll (from Detention Watch Network)

And finally, we are partnering with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont to make available relief workers and funding should farmers or farmworkers need sick leave due to COIVD-19. Learn more about this initiative and donate to the NOFA-VT Farmer Emergency Fund.