Dairy Farm Workers, Activists March on ‘Socially Conscious’ Ben & Jerry’s to Protest Pay, Living Conditions on Farms

Scores of dairy farm workers and activists marching in Montpelier, Vt., on Saturday June, 17, 2017. They were marching to the main Ben & Jerry's factory in the Vermont town of Waterbury to protest what they feel are slow negotiations to reach a deal on their "Milk with Dignity" program …
AP Photo/Wilson Ring

Dairy farm workers and activists marched from the Vermont statehouse to a Ben & Jerry’s factory to protest pay and living conditions on the farms that provide milk for the ice cream maker known for its social activism.

Protesters say Ben & Jerry’s did not live up to their promise from two years ago to participate in the “Milk with Dignity” program, which provides farm workers with fair pay and working conditions, the Associated Press reported.

“We can’t wait anymore. We are going to pressure them and see what happens,” said Victor Diaz, a Mexican immigrant who works on a dairy farm in Vergennes.

Ben Greenwood, a spokesman for Ben & Jerry’s, said before the march took place Saturday that negotiations between the company and worker representatives for the agreement were taking place.

“We are a values-led business. We frame ourselves as an aspiring social justice company,” said Greenwood. “We try to do good with everything we can with our business. Dairy has definitely been one of those issues we have done a ton of work on for decades.”

Greenwood added that the company had not received the details of the deal from the workers until last year but said the two parties have been working on the agreement since then.

Ben & Jerry’s is no stranger to controversy.

In 2016, the ice cream maker faced a boycott over its products after the company publicly announced support for Black Lives Matter.

“Every time you spend $8 on 1 of their flavours you’re lining the pockets of cop hating communists,” one user tweeted in disgust.

Anti-Israel students at Vassar College also proposed a boycott of the ice cream maker in 2016 when the company entered a “contractual relationship with an Israeli franchise.”


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