Ben and Jerry's workers take a stand: Company's flagship shop files for union election
Ben and Jerry's workers take...
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Ben and Jerry's workers take a stand: Company's flagship shop files for union election

17 April 2023
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Ben and Jerry's workers take a stand: Company's flagship shop files for union election

Ben and Jerry's first-ever union election

Workers at Ben and Jerry's flagship ice cream shop in Burlington, Vt., are filing for a union election on Monday. If successful, they will become the first of the company's U.S. locations to unionize. The move comes amid a rising trend of service-industry workers at major companies such as Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, and Apple, pushing for unionization.

Ben and Jerry’s has built a reputation on serving up unique ice cream flavors like Half Baked and Cherry Garcia, while also promoting social justice causes. However, the union drive now serves as a test of the company's values, according to the workers.

In a letter addressed to co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, scoopers in Burlington wrote, “Collectively, we have come to embody Ben and Jerry’s slogan of ‘peace, love, and ice cream’. Forming a union will ensure that present and future scoopers have irrefutable rights.”

Workers United, a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), will represent the Burlington workers. This scrappy union recently won union elections at approximately 300 Starbucks coffee shops across 36 states in just a year and a half.

The workers' push to unionize began on April 3, during Ben and Jerry's annual Free Cone Day when the company gives away free scoops of ice cream. Management took away the tip jar that day, but after workers protested, the company returned it. The move to unionize quickly gained traction throughout the store, with all 37 scoopers in Burlington pledging their support, well above the typical threshold of 30% of eligible employees required to qualify for a federally recognized union election in the United States.

Workers cite several issues as reasons for unionizing, including management's handling of multiple instances of drug use in the store bathroom, including an overdose last summer, as well as adding job duties without increasing pay.

However, Rebeka Mendelsohn said she has also been disappointed by the company's treatment of its employees and by incidents in the store. She reached out to labor organizers in early April. Also, Burlington has long grappled with heavy heroin use and overdoses among its population.

Persons2 and Companies5 in the news

Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s
1 place
Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s
2 place
Ben & Jerry’s
2 place
Trader Joe's
3 place
Starbucks
4 place
Apple
5 place
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