Workers at a Ben & Jerry’s store in Burlington, Vt. announced Monday that they are organizing a union in partnership with Workers United Upstate New York & Vermont — the same union that organized the first Starbucks workers. Dubbing themselves “Scoopers United,” the employees have formed an organizing committee and are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for an election.
“The support and comradery this store has cultivated are rare and unique,” employees at the Burlington store wrote in a letter to the NLRB. “Collectively, we have come to embody Ben and Jerry’s slogan of “peace, love, and ice cream.” We are taught from the beginning of our employment that equality and justice are integral rights of ours as people. But what happens when Vermont’s Finest are continuously left out of these conversations?”
In the formal petition to the NLRB, workers have cited that they have been left out of key workplace decisions, like health and safety issues, staffing, and pay, as their primary reason for organizing.
This union activity comes on the heels of Workers United’s announcement that Starbucks Workers United has passed its 300-store milestone of stores that have voted to unionize. Likely in response to the tumultuous legal battle between Starbucks and its unionizing employees, employees are asking Ben & Jerry’s, a subsidiary of Unilever, to sign a code of corporate conduct called the Fair Election Principles, in which the company would promise to refrain from union-busting.
“I think of this union as a sign of respect for Ben & Jerry’s,” Rebeka Mendelsohn said. “We’re a company that stands for social justice rights and equity, and I want to ensure that this message is translated to all levels of employment. A union will allow scoopers to enact agency over their work environments and make room for cooperative collaboration between all.”
Ben & Jerry’s did not respond in time for comment, but the company says that it stands for progressive, activist stances and policies in its values statement, and has unveiled ice cream flavors to support action against climate change, Black Lives Matter, and the Barack Obama presidential campaign.
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