NESRI Media Center

The Growing Movement for Worker-Driven Social Responsibility

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Publication Date: 
November 20, 2017

Last November after the election, it was hard to imagine we would have things to celebrate over the following year.  Yet, communities and workers, even while facing attacks and threats, have made impressive advances towards justice, equity and rights. 

Today we are excited to share our success with you in our work to hold corporations accountable to ensuring the human rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable workers: those laboring at the bottom of corporate supply chains. 

Vermont dairy workers celebrate a major victory

On October 3, 2017, after a three-year campaign in whichNESRI played a key role on the negotiating team, MigrantJustice signed the first ever corporate supply chain agreement to protect the rights of dairy workers in their supply chain. This agreement with Ben & Jerry’s is modelled on the highly acclaimed Fair Food Program that emerged out of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food, which protects the rights of farmworkers in the tomato sector.

Dairy workers in Ben & Jerry’s supply chain will no longer contend with schedules so erratic that workers can only sleep three hours at a time or housing conditions so deplorable that families raise children in barns above the cows they milked. This agreement protects the rights of thousands of dairy workers in Vermont, but it is only the beginning. Just as these campaigns have expanded CIW’s program from two farms to span six states and 90% of Florida’s tomato industry, we must spread this model to the entire dairy industry. 

CIW co-founder Greg Asbed wins “genius” award

Only a week after this historic victory, our long-time collaborator and co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Greg Asbed, was named the winner of a 2017 MacArthur “Genius” fellowship.  We are thrilled to extend a tremendous congratulations to Greg and to reiterate what an honor it is work closely with him and the CIW in building the worker-driven social responsibility model to transform corporate supply chains.  As Greg has noted, it is incredible to think that those meetings so long ago at Our Lady of Guadalupe would turn into this groundbreaking program and powerful movement for human rights. 

Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network launches

Finally, we had the honor of launching our new Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network at the Ford Foundation on November 1. NESRI’s partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers over the last 14 years has evolved into a broader movement to demand worker-driven social responsibility programs in corporate supply chains.  We are proud to house the new Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network that has emerged out of this work.

Like all of the coalitions NESRI anchors, this network is being co-created by organizations led by directly impacted communities who are fighting on the frontlines of injustice: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Migrant Justice, and CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unido en La Lucha) in Minneapolis. It is supported by ally members T’ruah and the Fair Food Standards Council. And like the supply chains it contends with, the network is global in scope. It includes international labor rights activists and monitors from the Worker Rights Consortium, Clean Clothes Campaign and Business and Human Rights Resource Center, with international worker organizations to come. 

We thank our co-sponsors and hosts of the launch, the Ford Foundation, NEO Philanthropies, NoVo Foundation, Funders for a Just Economy and SAGE, as well the more than 120 allies and supporters who joined us to celebrate!

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