This May Day, hundreds came together in Burlington for a beautiful and powerful “March for Dignity.” The action coincided with marches, rallies, and strikes across the country and around the world on International Workers' Day. The streets echoed with chants calling on Ben & Jerry’s to make good on its June 19, 2015 commitment to source its milk in compliance with the the human rights of dairy workers: “Get up! Get down! Milk with Dignity’s comin’ to town!”
Outside company’s flagship store, Migrant Justice leader David Diaz called the ice cream maker to task for two years of delay in joining the Milk with Dignity program:
“Listen up Ben and Jerry’s because the people are rising up. I am a dairy worker and I know the conditions in the industry; I know what it is to suffer in your supply chain. Thanks to the hard work of farmworkers -- the workers who are putting the cream in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream -- you are making a delicious product sold around the world. But it is a product made without dignity."
Marchers delivered thousands of postcards to the company, taped together in a 150-yard-long chain that extended for a full city block, demanding that Ben & Jerry’s sign the Milk with Dignity program.
Read the full story and see more pictures here!
In case you missed the news, a group of determined Vermont farmworkers and their allies were waiting at the front door of Ben & Jerry’s South Burlington, VT headquarters on Tuesday and Wednesday, as B&J’s board members arrived for a two-day meeting, in order to deliver a clear message: dairy workers’ human rights cannot wait. We need your support to ensure Ben & Jerry’s follows through on its 2015 commitment to join the Milk with Dignity Program now. Farmworker member of Migrant Justice Yessica kicked off the day addressing board members, many of whom have never met a Vermont dairy worker before, saying, “We work hard, every day, putting the cream in your ice cream. And we want our rights protected, dignified wages, respect, a voice. I want to repeat what others have said. We will not give up. We will continue this fight until Ben & Jerry’s signs the Milk with Dignity agreement as it promised nearly two years ago.”
Workers and allies then kicked off a roving picket line in front of the corporate headquarters that continued for the next two full days chanting and rallying and converting Ben & Jerry’s parking lot into a colorful and inspiring center for inter-organizational dialogue about our shared human rights work in Vermont. For two days, every couple of hours, a new organization would arrive to listen to farmworkers share about their struggle, to join in on the picketing and singing, and to share their own social justice campaigns and work for human rights that intersect with the dignity for which farmworkers have been fighting.
This Tuesday April 4th, thousands of customers waiting in line outside Ben & Jerry's scoop shops during the company's famed Free Cone Day got their ice cream with a bitter dose of truth.
At more than 10 scoop shops around the country -- from Nashville, to Naples, to New York -- dairy workers and supporters pulled the mask off the corporation's socially responsible marketing to expose the conditions faced by workers putting the cream in Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Enrique Balcazar, recently freed from prison after being targeted by deportation agents for his outspoken leadership, spoke at the factory store in Waterbury:
I have worked on dairy farms across the state, just like my mother and father before me, and I know better than anyone the conditions that we workers face. I would work from 3am through the day and night, oftentimes without 8 hours of consecutive rest, seven days a week. Nearly half of us don't even make minimum wage! That is why we are here today, calling on Ben & Jerry's to make good on its commitment to join the Milk with Dignity program, ensuring respect for the human rights of the workers who milk their cows.
Wilmar Santiz, a dairy worker and member of Migrant Justice's Farmworker Coordinating Committee, told customers in Burlington, VT: "We are here today demanding that Ben & Jerry's join the Milk with Dignity program. We invite everyone to unite with us -- because the time to sign is now!"
Springing into action upon their release from prison, after an ICE crackdown on farmworker rights leaders, Enrique Balcazar, Zully Palacios and Migrant Justice are calling for a national day of action on April 4th at Ben & Jerry's scoops to educate and activate consumers, while they wait for free ice cream, to tell Ben & Jerry's that dairy worker's human rights cannot wait. The dairy worker leaders call to action comes just days after hundreds of supporters flooded Ben & Jerry's phone lines, marking Cesar Chavez day on Friday 3/31, demanding Ben & Jerry's join and implement the worker-led Milk with Dignity Program as promised dairy workers nearly two years ago.
Click here to take action on April 4th!
La Lucha continues to #FreeAlex and Call on Ben & Jerry’s to Commit to the Milk with Dignity Program
Download the April 4th #MilkWithDignity Free Cone Day Action Pack by clicking here.
Monday’s freezing rain across Northern New England could not chill the spirits of a people hungry for justice. The public space in front of the cold stone federal building where Boston's Immigration Court sits was alive with colorful banners, chants, songs, a brass band, roving picket lines, and compelling words from faith leaders and community members. Hundreds of people, including Cosecha members and allies, the ACLU of Massachusetts, many union workers, and a bus full of friends and family from Vermont, came together to support the call for freedom for Migrant Justice leaders Enrique Balcazar, Zully Palacios and Alex Carrillo who were inside the JFK Federal building with their fate in the hands of our nation’s inhumane and brutal immigration system.
Thousands show support for detained human rights leaders in Vermont
Immigrant leaders of Migrant Justice targeted by ICE for arrest
Burlington, VT. Agents with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have arrested three immigrant members of the Vermont-based human rights organization Migrant Justice within the past week.
Jose Enrique “Kike” Balcazar Sanchez, 24, and Zully Palacios Rodriguez, 23, were surrounded by four undercover ICE vehicles soon after leaving the Migrant Justice office in Burlington on Friday afternoon. Migrant Justice organizers arrived on the site of the arrest in time to see the two being loaded into separate vans and driven away.
“They are targeting our community’s leaders,” said Migrant Justice organizer Abel Luna.
The detention came two days after agents arrested dairy worker Cesar Alexis Carrillo Sanchez, 23, outside the Chittenden County courthouse Wednesday morning. At the time, Mr. Carrillo, known as Alex, was accompanied by his wife, Lymarie Deida, a U.S. citizen. The two have a four-year-old daughter together.
Said Ms. Deida of her husband’s arrest: “When they arrested Alex, they took away a father, a husband, a human being.”
Sign the petition below to send a letter to ICE Boston Field Office Director Todd Thurlow demanding the release of Enrique "Kike" Balcazar and Zully Palacios! Click on "Read more" to find out more about the case.
“Hey...Ben & Jerry’s: On Human Rights, Actions Speak Louder than Words"
“It’s been nearly two years since Ben & Jerry’s promised to source its milk in compliance with our human rights and we’re fed up with their endless delays and excuses. For many of us workers that means two years of working 12 or more hour shifts with no breaks, two years without a raise, two years of parents without a single day off to spend with their kids, and two years without a real voice--while B&J’s milk and profits keeps flowing. Enough is enough--¡ya basta! Join us on this speaking tour culminating in a big May Day “March for Dignity” in Burlington VT, the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, to demand Ben & Jerry’s follow through on their promise to protect the human rights of farmworkers by joining the MD Program now!" --Migrant Justice Farmworker Coordinating Committee
Join and share the Burlington, VT May Day March for Dignity action here!