Vermont Fair Food Campaign held a press conference on June 13th, to announce the findings of a year-long study on the conditions of food workers in our state. Among others, Channel 5 News, Fox News 44, the Burlington Free Press & Vermont Public Radio came out to cover the release of our report. We were joined by supporters from the Vermont Workers Center, Migrant Justice, the American Federation of Teachers, and Voices for Vermont’s Children.
We published this study in hopes that it will help bring to light many issues around how food workers in Vermont are treated, including the need for livable wages, paid sick leave, affordable health insurance, more consistent hours and schedules, and more respect on the job.
In order to help improve conditions across Vermont’s food industry, we are interested in partnering with socially-responsible food employers to launch an exciting new project: It’s called the VT Fair Food Certification program, and it would allow participating businesses to display a “Fair Food” label in their stores or on their products which informs customers this employer pays fair wages, offers paid sick leave, and respects the rights of workers. VFFC thinks it’s important to promote and publicize food businesses who are doing the right thing by their employees – and we’re confident that Vermont consumers will respond favorably.
Or Click Here -> PDF: Backbone of Sustainable Food by Vermont Fair Food Campaign
The VFFC held a great and productive workshop at the Vermont People’s convention. We got to meet and speak with many allies, conscious consumers and workers who want to see a fair and just Vermont Food Chain.
Our workshop outlined pointed out that while there has been a great deal of analysis and conversation about the local, environmental and sustainable character of the Vermont food system, little attention has been paid to the conditions of the workers who produce, distribute and sell our food. When looking at the food industry in Vermont you need to look beyond the often referenced ideal of the small organic family farm. The reality of food production in our state is that it is a large and diverse group of industries from boutique breweries to national corporations, from creameries to trucking companies. The workers employed in our food chain are machine operators and meat cutters, warehouse workers and truck drivers, grocery stockers and cashiers. When we speak of the local food system we are speaking about all the links along the Vermont food chain.
Workshop participants who are employed in the food industry spoke of tough working conditions and sub-living wages. Points that we were not surprised to hear- as they are in line with our forthcoming study of VT food industry workers.
Consumers too were interested in hearing about our plans to establish a VT fair food certification program as it would bring to light the issues that food workers face and help to codify standards that Vermont produced food should meet. Consumers are interested in consciously purchasing environmentally sustainable or fair trade food products, we were happy to hear that there seems to be equal consumer interest products manufactured with ethical labor practices and respect for the human rights of those employed by the food system.
The VFFC had a food chain workers solidarity meeting with Migrant Justice, The United Electrical Workers (UE) and the Vermont Worker’s Center.
We met with migrant farm workers, unionized food coop workers and unorganized food workers from different shops to learn about each others struggles and talk about the way forward.
The VFFC is giving a workshop at the Vermont People’s Convention on Labor Day weekend.
Come see campaign organizers and volunteers who have been involved in surveying and organizing Vermont’s food workers share their experiences so far and hear about our vision for a just food chain.
The workshop is open to anyone who wants to learn more about the situation facing the workers who produce our food. Employees who work in Vermont’s food industry and activists in any of the food-related non-profit organizations in the state are especially encouraged to attend.
The workshop will take place at the Vermont People’s Convention http://www.vtpeoplesconvention.org/ in Burlington on September 2nd.
Food Chain workers lunch meeting: 12:15 to 1:45
VFFC workshop: 1:45 to 3:15
Since last fall we have been surveying food industry workers throughout the state for a broad study of the working conditions in Vermont’s food chain. Our final report is pending, but here’s a snapshot of the initial results.
Update 5/10/13: New Updated Study Coming Soon! Stay tuned!
Update 6/13/13: To view our Report Click Here -> PDF: Backbone of Sustainable Food by Vermont Fair Food Campaign
Volunteers from the United Electrical Workers Northeast Region helped out during a week of leafleting . We went to 18 food manufacturing plants which combined employ some 2700 workers. The week closed with a press conference jointly held with Migrant Justice and the Vermont Workers Center announcing the Vermont Fair Food Campaign.
Here’s some news coverage of the event: