PCVT Logo CMYK

celedad

LGBT History Month: Eric Fanning

on Friday, 13 October 2017.

Secretary of the Army

LGBT History Month: Eric Fanning

b. July 2, 1968

“I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment … because I’m gay.”

Nominated by President Barack Obama, Eric Fanning served as the 22nd Secretary of the Army, the largest branch of the U.S. military. The confirmation made him the first openly gay man to lead a U.S. military department and the highest-ranking openly gay official ever at the Pentagon.

Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Fanning attended the prestigious Cranbrook School. In 1990 he earned a B.A. in history from Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth he got involved in a New Hampshire primary election—an experience that cemented his interest in government and politics.

After college Fanning held various political jobs in Washington, D.C. He served as a research assistant with the House Armed Services Committee, as a special assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense and as associate director of political affairs for the White House. In 1997 he took a job with CBS National News in New York, working on national and foreign assignments. He went on to hold executive positions at the Business Executives for National Security, a Washington think tank, and at a strategic communications firm in New York, before becoming director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.

Although he never served in the military, Fanning held high-ranking posts, including under secretary and chief management officer of the Air Force and under secretary of the Navy/deputy chief management officer. He served as chief of staff to Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter.

After the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed him as Secretary of the Army in March 2016, Fanning publicly thanked his boyfriend Ben Masri-Cohen.

Throughout his career, Fanning has been a vocal supporter of LGBT service members. While serving on the board of directors of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, he supported the right of openly transgender people to serve in the military. 

 

LGBT History Month: Brian Epstein

on Thursday, 12 October 2017.

LGBT History Month: Brian Epstein

The Beatles’ Manager

b. September 19, 1934
d. August 27, 1967

“I always thought they were going to be pretty big.”

Brian Epstein was a British music producer, best known for discovering and managing The Beatles.

Born to a Jewish family in Liverpool, England, Epstein was expelled from two schools for his poor grades. At 16 he announced his desire to become a dress designer, but his parents insisted he work in the family furniture business.

In the early 1950s, Epstein enlisted in the Royal Army Services Corps. He was arrested at a gay nightclub for wearing an army uniform and was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. When he came out to the psychiatrist, the army discharged him for being “emotionally and mentally unfit.” He subsequently enrolled at the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts and was arrested outside of a public restroom where gay men met for sex. He left school and returned to Liverpool.

Epstein made his entrée into the music business managing his family’s music store. He helped grow it into one of the largest music retailers in Northern England. During this time, he discovered the Beatles at a small Liverpool club. Though he had no experience managing bands, Epstein secured the Beatles’ first recording contract. He is credited with influencing the Beatles’ early style—black suits and mop haircuts—and hiring drummer Ringo Starr.

As the Beatles’ success grew, so did their relationship with Epstein, whom they trusted and relied upon implicitly. John Lennon chose Epstein as the best man in his first wedding and as the godfather to his eldest son.

Epstein’s sexuality was not public until after his death. Paul McCartney said the band knew he was gay when they signed with him, but didn’t care.

To guard his secret, Epstein took vacations to Amsterdam and Barcelona, where homosexuality was not illegal. Epstein and Lennon were rumored to have had a sexual encounter in Spain, but Lennon denied it. “Well, it was almost a love affair,” Lennon told Playboy, “… we did have a pretty intense relationship.”

Epstein’s memoir, “A Cellarful of Noise,” which describes his early days with the Beatles and growing up Jewish, was published in 1964. Rumors circulated about his drug addiction. He died in 1967 at age 33 from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills combined with alcohol. The Bee Gees paid tribute to him in their 1968 song “In the Summer of His Years.”

Epstein’s family home was converted into a Beatles-themed hotel, Epstein House. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

LGBT History Month: Wade Davis II

on Wednesday, 11 October 2017.

LGBT History Month: Wade Davis II

NFL Player

b. July 28, 1977

“Don’t let the love for your sport overshadow the need to love yourself.”

Wade Alan Davis II is the first NFL player to come out. He is a pioneering LGBT advocate who directs the You Can Play Project, an organization that educates the pro sports industry about LGBT issues.

Davis grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Aurora, Colorado, in a devout Southern Baptist family. He played football in high school and for both Mesa State and Weber State in college.

In 2001 Davis made his professional debut with the Berlin Thunder in Europe’s NFL, where he helped win World Bowl IX. Later that year, he joined the Seattle Seahawks before returning to Europe to play for the Barcelona Dragons. In 2003 he signed with the Washington Redskins. A leg injury forced him to retire early.

Davis came out publicly in 2012. He has since toured the country, sharing what it was like to be closeted in professional sports and to grow up in a strict religious family. He became a pioneering activist and paved the way for other LGBT players to come out. Davis has spoken at colleges, universities and corporations around the world.

In 2013 when he was named executive director of You Can Play, Davis helped develop training focused on LGBT inclusion and diversity in professional sports. He also worked with the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York, where he taught life and employment skills to LGBT youth.

In 2014 Davis became a professor at the Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media and Business in the NYU School of Professional Studies. He cofounded the YOU Belong Initiative, an organization that provides comprehensive training for LGBT youth and allies. His social media campaign, #ThisIsLuv, celebrates LGBT experiences in the black community.

Davis has written about his life and the need for LGBT acceptance in sports for many publications, including The Advocate and The Huffington Post. He contributed essays to the books “For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Still Not Enough” and “Coming Home.”

Davis serves on the board of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City and is a member of the sports advisory board for GLSEN. Among other recognition, Northeastern University awarded him an honorary doctorate for public service. The National Youth Pride Services named him one of 50 Black LGBT Adults That Youth Should Know and The Root named him to its list of 100 black influencers.

Andrew's Inn Oral History Project:

on Tuesday, 10 October 2017. Posted in Events

identifying places throughout the state that tell the story of our shared LGBTQ history.

Andrew's Inn Oral History Project:

Please join us and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation for a discussion October 17 at 11:30 a.m., following the dedication of the Marriage Equality State Historic Marker at the State House (room 11) in Montpelier to continue identifying historically significant places throughout the state.

TIC Conference

on Tuesday, 10 October 2017. Posted in Safespace

TIC Conference

The Pride Center's SafeSpace Program will be hosting an affinity space for survivors of violence at this year's Translating Identity Conference happening this Saturday at UVM.

Read more below and register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/uvm-tic-attendee-registration-tickets-33566877434

Opening its doors to the public once more, the Translating Identity Conference (TIC) explores a wide array of topics in discourses regarding gender and transgender identities, expressions, communities, and intersections. The largest conference of its kind in New England, TIC is a free, student organized, non-profit conference that seeks to reach not only the University of Vermont & the Burlington community, but the nation as a whole. A one-day event, TIC has numerous sessions to choose from at any time, ranging from healthcare to law to education, that are directed towards people at all levels of inclusion in the trans and allied communities. This conference is a safe space for everyone to come, learn, and enjoy themselves! 

This conference is open to the national public, but space is limited. Please register as soon as possible to guarantee your spot.

Registration and attendance are free!

LGBT History Month: George Cukor

on Monday, 09 October 2017.

LGBT History Month: George Cukor

Movie Director

b. July 7, 1899
d. January 24, 1983

“You can’t have any successes unless you accept failure.”

George Cukor was an Academy Award-winning film director best known for his comedies and literary adaptations for the screen. His film classics include “The Philadelphia Story,” “A Star is Born” and “My Fair Lady.” During his career, he directed more Oscar-winning performances than anyone else.

Cukor was born to Hungarian Jewish immigrants on New York City’s Lower East Side. As a child, he showed an interest in theater, appearing in plays and taking dance lessons. He would often cut classes to watch matinees.

Though Cukor was expected to become a lawyer, he left school and enlisted in the Signal Corps during World War II. After the war, he became a stage manager for a traveling acting troupe. He also worked in summer stock theater and made his Broadway debut as an actor.

Cukor first captured critical attention as director of the stage production of “The Great Gatsby.” He directed six Broadway shows before leaving for Hollywood in 1929.

Cukor signed with Paramount Pictures and began working as a speech coach and subsequently as a dialogue director. He made his directorial debut with the 1931 film, “Tarnished Lady,” starring Tallulah Bankhead. Cukor helped launch the careers of many stars, including Katherine Hepburn. Hepburn and Cukor became lifelong friends.

Rumors regarding Cukor’s personal life circulated in Hollywood. Writer Gore Vidal alleged that Clark Gable refused to work with Cukor because of his homosexuality. Soon after, Cukor was fired from directing “Gone with the Wind.”

Though Cukor never came out publicly, his sexuality was well known among industry insiders. He hosted extravagant parties attended by closeted celebrities, and his home became a refuge for gay and lesbian actors. During his time at MGM, Cukor was arrested on vice charges, which were dismissed due to industry pressure.

Cukor earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1960. He was nominated for three Golden Globes and five Academy Awards, winning the Oscar in 1965 for “My Fair Lady.” In 1976 he received the George Eastman Award for distinguished contribution to film.

In 2000 PBS broadcast “On Cukor,”as part of its American Masters series. In 2013 the Film Society of Lincoln Center presented a retrospective titled, “The Discreet Charm of George Cukor.

LGBT History Month: Lynn Conway

on Sunday, 08 October 2017.

LGBT History Month: Lynn Conway

Computer Pioneer

b. Jan. 2, 1938

“If you want to change the future, start living as if you’re already there.”

Born male in Mt. Vernon, New York, Lynn Conway is a pioneer in microelectronic chip design and a transgender activist. She helped shape the way modern computers are designed and built.

Conway, formerly Robert Sanders (a pseudonym), enrolled at MIT at 17, but struggled with his gender identity and dropped out. After working as a computer technician, he resumed his education at Columbia University and earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He married a woman and fathered two daughters.

Robert’s outstanding record at Columbia attracted the attention of IBM, who recruited him to work on a supercomputing team. Despite his work on a groundbreaking invention, he was fired in 1968 when he began his gender transition.

After learning about the pioneering work of Dr. Harry Benjamin, Robert underwent gender correction surgery. He completed his transition and took the name Lynn Conway. Conway’s ex-wife would not allow her to see their children.

Conway started over in “stealth mode” for fear of being outed and losing her career again. She advanced quickly. At Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), she created new methods of silicon chip design and co-wrote a seminal engineering textbook used at universities worldwide. In 1978, on leave as a visiting associate professor at MIT, she invented an e-commerce infrastructure that enabled rapid development of thousands of new chip designs, launching an international revolution in microelectronics and computing.

Conway worked briefly for the Department of Defense before joining the University of Michigan as associate dean of engineering and a professor of electrical engineering and computer science. During this period, she met Charles Rodgers, the man she married.

In 1998, as Conway neared retirement, stories of her innovations at IBM began to circulate. Facing her fear of exposure, she came out on the internet. She created a transgender advocacy website to “illuminate and normalize the issues of gender identity and the processes of gender transition.” She has worked for employment protections for transgender people in the tech industry and successfully lobbied for transgender inclusion in the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) code of ethics.

Conway has received many prestigious awards, including election to the National Academy of Engineering, the profession’s highest honor. In 2004 she was cast in an all-transgender performance of “The Vagina Monologues” and appeared in the documentary “Beautiful Daughters.”

Conway lives with her husband in rural Michigan. They have been together for more than 30 years.

LGBT History Month: Charlotte Bunch

on Saturday, 07 October 2017.

LGBT History Month: Charlotte Bunch

Scholar and Activist

b. October 13, 1944

“We need women leaders.”

Charlotte Bunch is an internationally renowned activist, feminist author and National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, who has devoted her life to women’s rights. She is the founding director and senior scholar at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, where she is also a distinguished professor in the Department of Women’s Studies.

Raised in a liberal family, Bunch spent most of her childhood in Artesia, New Mexico. She enrolled at Duke University and graduated magna cum laude in 1966. In college she was involved in the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Methodist Student Movement. She became a youth delegate to the World Council of Churches Conference and served as president of the University Christian Movement in Washington, D.C., before leaving the church over its homophobic policies.

Bunch became politically active in the women’s movement and later in lesbian rights advocacy. She was a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and cofounded The Furies Collective, a lesbian organization that espoused lesbian separatism. Bunch helped launch the publications Women’s Liberation and Quest: A Feminist Quarterly. The National Register of Historic Places named The Furies headquarters a landmark. It is the first lesbian-related historic landmark in Washington, D.C.

By 1979 Bunch had become a consultant to the World Conference for the United Nations Decade on Women, which lobbied for women’s rights globally. In 1989 she founded the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Douglass College at Rutgers University, which created the Charlotte Bunch Women’s Human Rights Strategic Opportunities Fund in her honor.

In 1996 Bunch was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from President Bill Clinton and the Women Who Make a Difference Award from the National Council for Research on Women. In 2002 Rutgers University honored her with its Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research.

Bunch has worked with numerous organizations, including the Advisory Committee for the Human Rights Watch, the Global Fund for Women and the International Council on Human Rights Policy. She consulted on the 2006 Report to the U.N. General Assembly on Violence Against Women and has written and edited many books and reports on women’s rights.

A documentary film, “Passionate Politics: The Life & Work of Charlotte Bunch,” explores her lifetime of advocacy on behalf of women worldwide.

Recent Transitions at Pride Center of Vermont

on Friday, 06 October 2017.

Recent Transitions at Pride Center of Vermont
 
 
pressreleasenodate-413c06a697
 
To Our Community,
 
After much consideration, Susan Hartman has decided to step down as Executive Director of the Pride Center. We are grateful for Susan's service and offer her our best wishes as she departs. We thank her for coming into, leading, and connecting with our community with such earnestness and sincerity. We regret that she is leaving the Pride Center and want to express our deep appreciation for her leadership and dedication.
 
The board of directors is pleased to announce that Rex Butt has assumed the position of Interim Executive Director. Rex will serve through June of 2018, and will work to maintain the programmatic priorities of the Pride Center while a permanent Director is identified. 
 
We welcome Rex, who will be transitioning from being a stalwart volunteer and board member to being our new Interim Director. Rex is an avid activist and ally, as well as the proud father of a transgender daughter. In addition to being the author of Now What? A Guidebook for Families with Transgender Children, Rex has been a long-time, passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community. Prior to moving to Vermont a year ago, Rex served on the Board of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center and co-founded the Kingston, NY PFLAG Chapter. He has presented workshops and trainings at conferences and organizations across the nation and has mentored hundreds of families with LGBTQ loved ones.
 
At the Pride Center, Rex has been an integral member of the Trans & Gender Non-Conforming Community Project, and through his work as facilitator for the Families, Partners, Friends, and Allies of Trans Adults he has assisted many individuals in learning to better support their transgender loved ones. We look forward to having Rex at the helm as we move through this transition.
 
Rex is eager to engage our community and wishes for all to know that his door is open. Welcome, Rex!

 To reach Rex please email: rex@pridecentervt.org

LGBT History Month: Selisse Berry

on Friday, 06 October 2017.

LGBT History Month: Selisse Berry

Workplace Pioneer

b. 1956

“There are emotional and financial benefits to being authentic.”

Selisse Berry is the founder and CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. Based in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., it is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to LGBT employment equality.

Born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Berry was raised Presbyterian. She attended the University of North Texas and received degrees in education and guidance counseling. She earned a graduate degree in special education from the University of Texas.

For years Berry worked as a guidance counselor and teacher. In 1987 she enrolled at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. There she began dating a female classmate. Because the church did not allow gay or lesbian people to become ordained ministers, the couple kept their relationship secret.

After coming out, Berry left the church and began working in the nonprofit sector, initially as national coordinator for Christian Lesbians Out Together and then as director of the North California Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights.

In 1996 Berry was named director of the United Way’s Building Bridges training program, which merged with other LGBT workplace organizations, eventually becoming Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.

Out & Equal partners with companies and government agencies to provide professional development, networking and other opportunities that build and support inclusivity. The organization hosts an annual event, the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, which brings together international experts, employers and LGBT employees to share best practices. “If you are putting all of your energy into hiding, into changing pronouns,” Berry has said, “you are actually not working at full capacity and that hurts the company’s bottom line.”

In 2013 Berry self-published “Out & Equal at Work: From Closet to Corner Office,” an anthology of coming-out stories from openly gay and lesbian executives of Disney, Clorox, Hewlett-Packard and Xerox.

Among other honors, Berry received the Bonhame Center Award in 2016 from the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, Cynthia.

LGBT History Month: Ruth Berman & Connie Kurtz

on Thursday, 05 October 2017.

LGBT History Month: Ruth Berman & Connie Kurtz

Employee Benefits Plaintiffs

b. Ruth Berman, 1934
b. Connie Kurtz, 1936

“We’re all entitled to equal treatment.” - Ruth Berman

Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz were the first same-sex couple in the United States to successfully sue an employer for domestic partner benefits. Their landmark case against the New York City Board of Education eventually led to the extension of health and dental benefits to the domestic partners of all New York City employees.

Born in Brooklyn, the women first met when they had husbands and children. Years later, they reconnected and both divorced. As a couple, Berman and Kurtz shared a commitment to LGBT rights and feminist activism.

In 1988 Berman worked as a health and physical education teacher at a Brooklyn high school. Kurtz was self-employed. The couple sued for Kurtz to receive medical and dental benefits under Berman’s employee healthcare plan. They won the case in 1994 and went on to become spokeswomen for LGBT rights, sharing their story on television and through other national media. It was the first time many Americans had seen an out lesbian couple. An emotional public outpouring led them to create Women in Discovery, the first forum empowering lesbians married to men to discuss their attraction to women.

Over the years, Berman and Kurtz helped organize Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG) chapters in Florida and New York and founded The Answer is Love Counseling Center. They served as co-chairs of the New York State NOW Lesbian Task Force.

In 2011 the couple, both grandmothers, married in New York just two days after the state legalized same-sex marriage. “Forty-two years we have been significant others, we have been life partners,” Kurtz said. “Now we are spouses.”

In 2015 a New York State bill, the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act, was introduced to improve and protect services for aging LGBT adults.

A 2002 documentary, “Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House,” explores their lives and contributions as a couple. In 2016 they received the SAGE Pioneer Award.

Pride Center Pulls for Queer & Trans Youth

on Thursday, 05 October 2017.

Pride Center Pulls for Queer & Trans Youth

This past weekend the Pride Center participated in Outright VT's Fire Truck Pull fundraiser. It was awesome! A mixture of staff, volunteers and community members came together to raise $1000 for Outright, and hauled together to pull a 40,000 pound fire truck up Church St. We didn't pull the fastest, and we didn't win any of the contests, but we DID look fabulous and we had a blast. We were thrilled to be part of the most successful Fire Truck Pull ever, which raised over $50,000 all together. It was such a fun experience coming together as a community to support the important work that our friends at Outright do for queer and trans youth in Vermont. Many thanks to those of you who donated, those of you who pulled, and those of you who cheered us on. We appreciate you! We're excited to keep building our connection with Outright and keep working to make Vermont a safer and more affirming place for LGBTQ+ folks of all ages. 

♥ PCVT ♥ ORVT ♥!!!

Photos by James Buck; check out Outright's Facebook page to see more pics of the event!

Pride Center Disability Network Open House Friday

on Wednesday, 04 October 2017.

Pride Center Disability Network Open House Friday

*Please note that the date has changed! The new date is Friday, October 6th

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for visiting our Disability Network table at this year's Pride Festival. We are excited about all of the new interest in our group!

Please Join us Friday, October 6th from 6:30-8:30 for an open house!

There will be snacks, new friends, and an opportunity to learn about the group and/or offer your suggestions to make group better than ever!
 
 
We look forward to seeing you all again,
 
Rose and David
disability logo 3

LGBT History Month: Billy Bean

on Wednesday, 04 October 2017.

LGBT History Month: Billy Bean

Major League Baseball Player

b. May 11, 1964

“We’re not here to change the way people think. We’re here to give them the opportunity to make the best decision.”

William “Billy” Bean is the second Major League Baseball player to come out.

Born in Santa Ana, California, the eldest of six kids, Bean showed talent for baseball in high school. His team won the state championship. He received an athletic scholarship from Loyola Marymount University where, in his junior year, he was recruited by the New York Yankees. Though he was offered a lucrative signing bonus, he chose to finish college and was twice named an All-American outfielder.

When Bean was 24, he married a woman he met in college. They porced three years later.

In 1986 Bean made his Major League debut with the Detroit Tigers. During his career, he also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres and the Kintestsu Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.

While playing with the Padres, Bean came out to his family. He came out publicly in 1999, after retiring from the sport.

In 2014 Bean was appointed Major League Baseball’s first-ever Ambassador for Inclusion. In this role, he provides guidance and support for LGBT players. He has also developed educational training on homophobia and has presented at annual industry events. In an interview, Bean said he likely would not have quit baseball as early in his career if a support system for gay players had existed at the time.

Bean lives in Los Angeles. He discusses his personal and professional life in his best-selling memoir, “Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life In and Out of Major League Baseball.”

Milk With Dignity!!

on Wednesday, 04 October 2017. Posted in Safespace

Milk With Dignity!!

We are so thrilled to hear that the Milk With Dignity agreement has been signed!! As of yesterday, dairy workers who supply the milk for Ben & Jerry's ice cream will finally have access to human rights. Read more below from the amazing folks at Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante who have worked tirelessly alongside farmworkers to make this happen. Learn more (and stay looped in about where they'll expand to next) at migrantjustice.net. Also check out their FB page to read more well-deserved press about this momentous victory. Si se puede!

A new day for dairy: Milk with Dignity agreement signed! Watershed moment for workers’ rights in the dairy industry (article copied from migrantjustice.net/victory)

On Tuesday October 3, farmworker leaders from Migrant Justice and the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s jointly signed the Milk with Dignity agreement.  The legally-binding contract establishes Ben & Jerry’s as the first company in the dairy industry to implement the worker-driven human rights program.  This momentous occasion marks the beginning of a new day for dairy, one that provides economic relief and support to struggling farm owners, in the form of a premium paid by Ben & Jerry’s, while ensuring dignity and respect for farmworkers.
 
Before putting his signature on the document, Migrant Justice spokesperson Enrique “Kike” Balcazar spoke to those assembled:
 
“This is an historic moment for dairy workers.  We have worked tirelessly to get here, and now we move forward towards a new day for the industry.  We appreciate Ben & Jerry’s leadership role and look forward to working together to implement a program that ensures dignified housing and fair working conditions on dairy farms across the region. And though this is the first, it won’t be the last agreement of its kind.”
 
Today’s signing ceremony brings to a close more than two years of public campaigning by dairy workers and their allies, as well as intensive negotiations between Migrant Justice and Ben & Jerry’s.  The agreement follows the “Human Rights Can’t Wait” speaking tour -- which brought dairy workers to a dozen cities along the east coast -- and comes just two days before the October 5th National Day of Action.  Migrant Justice is calling off the actions that were to take place at Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops around the country in order to focus on the coming work of implementing this ground-breaking agreement in Ben & Jerry’s supply chain.
 
Ben & Jerry’s implementation of the Milk with Dignity program will result in transformational changes to a troubled industry.   
  • Farmworkers will see concrete improvements in wages, scheduling, housing, and health and safety protections
  • Farm owners will receive a premium on their milk and support in improving working conditions
  • Ben & Jerry’s can sell a product made with cream produced free from human rights abuses
  • Consumers -- thousands of whom have called for this change -- will be able to see their solidarity with farmworkers bear fruit in the form of a major company’s concrete commitment to promoting human rights through worker-driven social responsibility.
Developed by Vermont dairy workers, Milk with Dignity is modeled after the world-renowned Fair Food Program.  Through a series of 14 Buyer Agreements with major food corporations -- from McDonald’s to Walmart -- the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has transformed the Florida tomato industry.  Once considered ground-zero for modern day slavery in the United States, the tomato fields of Florida are now recognized as one of the best workplaces in U.S. agriculture.  The change has been accomplished through the CIW’s bold vision of “worker-driven social responsibility:” harnessing the market power of corporations to set conditions in their supply chains using standards and enforcement led by the workers themselves.
 
The Milk with Dignity Program will be implemented throughout Ben & Jerry’s dairy supply chain using the five essential elements of worker-driven social responsibility developed by the CIW:
 
1. Farmworker-Authored Code of Conduct: Farms in Ben & Jerry’s supply chain must meet the standards defined by farmworkers in wages, scheduling, housing, health and safety, and the right to work free from retaliation;
 
2. Farmworker Education: From day one, workers in the program will be educated on their rights under the code of conduct and how to enforce them.  Workers will become frontline defenders of their own human rights.
 
3. Third Party Monitoring Body: The newly-created Milk with Dignity Standards Council (MDSC) will enforce the agreement by auditing farms’ compliance with the code of conduct, receiving, investigating and resolving worker grievances, and creating improvement plans to address violations.  The MDSC will work with farmers and farmworkers in order to problem-solve issues as they arise seeking to improve communication and participation in the workplace.  It may suspend a farm from the program if the farm is unwilling to meet the standards in the code of conduct, creating strong market incentives to improve conditions and make workers’ human rights a reality.
 
4. Economic relief: Ben & Jerry’s will pay a premium to all participating farms in their supply chain. The premium provides workers with a bonus in each paycheck and serves to offset farms’ costs of compliance with the code of conduct.
 
5. Legally-binding Agreement: Ben & Jerry's has signed a legally-binding agreement that defines the program as a long-term contract enforceable under law.
 
On the strength of this structure, the Milk with Dignity program has garnered tremendous support.  The national Presbyterian church, representing millions of parishioners, issued a statement lauding the program.  15 renowned human rights organizations, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote in an open letter that Milk with Dignity “promises ... transformational reforms for the dairy industry in Vermont, and presents a valuable opportunity for Ben & Jerry’s to establish itself as an industry leader.”  And the country’s largest labor union, the National Education Association, recently awarded Migrant Justice their prestigious César Chávez Civil and Human Rights Award.
 
This watershed moment is only the beginning.  As the program rolls out on the farms in Ben & Jerry’s supply chain, dairy workers will be preparing to expand Milk with Dignity to other companies.  Your support over the past years was crucial in getting to where we are today -- join us for this next phase in the Milk with Dignity campaign!
<<  1 2 [34 5 6 7  >>