Last year, Migrant Justice, an organization led by dairy workers in Vermont, teamed up with NESRI and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to launch the Milk with Dignity Campaign. Inspired by the successful Campaign for Fair Food from Immokalee, Florida, the Vermont Campaign demanded that large milk purchasers take responsibility for abuses occuring at the bottom of their supply chain.
Last week, Ben & Jerry's became the first company to commit to reaching an agreement with Migrant Justice to incorporate a Milk with Dignity program protecting the human rights of dairy workers in their northeast supply chain. The Milk with Dignity program will be modeled on the CIW's Fair Food Program and includes:
•Farmworker-defined standards under a Code of Conduct that covers the human right to work with dignity and fair housing for all farm labor;
•Farmworker and farmer education about workers' rights under the defined Code of Conduct;
•Third-party monitoring that ensures the program is being implemented and enforced;
•Economic relief in the form of premiums that benefit both farmworkers and farmers;
•A legally-binding Agreement that defines the program.
For the first time, the CIW's award-winning model will be implemented in a new sector. This is just the beginning. Millions of workers at the bottom of supply chains are still forced into day labor, temporary work and subcontracted work. They produce the profits for large multi-nationals, while suffering sub-poverty wages, retaliation, abuse and other violations.
This model of Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) ensures workers at the bottom of supply chains are at the head of the table when negotiating for and creating a system to protect their human rights. Worker-driven Social Responsibility represents a new day for human rights in corporate supply chains, with a growing number of workers and ally groups committed to ensuring it becomes the new way of doing business.