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Published on Apr 21, 2010
My name is Jennifer Ristau and I am a Willamette University student and teaching assistant at the Salem Family Literacy Program. I am writing to inform you that Darigolds processing and distribution of milk produced by Ruby Ridge Dairy of Pasco, Washington, poses a serious threat to the health and human rights of our community. When I met with workers from Ruby Ridge Dairy on Sunday, March 21st, 2010, I was informed that Ruby Ridge Dairy consistently denies the legal rights of lunch breaks, water, sick leave with job security, and protection from toxic chemicals to its workers. In addition to working 10-14 hour shifts under illegal working conditions, Ruby Ridge exploits its workers through racism and xenophobia, denying these working members of our community dignity and respect.
Darigold has been informed by the United Farm Worker Ministry of the human rights abuses committed by its members and still refuses to meet with the workers. Despite the efforts of the Ruby Ridge work force and organizations such as the United Farm Workers Union of Oregon and the Oregon Farm Worker Ministry to inform Darigold of the illegal labor practices at Ruby Ridge, working conditions remain unchanged.
Members of our community are making a difference by writing numerous letters to Darigold and boycotting its products. I urge you to join the workers and allies in securing human rights to members of our community who are targeted by xenophobia and racism. As consumers of Darigold products we have both the responsibility and the power to influence the actions of Darigold. We can do our part by boycotting Darigold products and writing letters to Darigold to let them know that human rights are non-negotiable.
Darigolds Address: Consumer Affairs P.O. Box 34377 Seattle, WA 98124-1377
Darigold buys, processes and distributes milk produced by Ruby Ridge Dairy and by some 500 other dairies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and northern California. * Ruby Ridge has fired 12 of its workers because of their involvement in union organizing * The Ruby Ridge work force has raised grievances with their employer, Dick and Ruby Bengen, to no avail. These grievances include: o being treated with disrespect, intimidation, racial epithets, threats, including threats with a shotgun, which Mr. Bengen claims he keeps "just to scare the birds in the barn" o Regularly receiving pay for several hours fewer than they actually worked o Working 10, 12, even 14 hour shifts without breaks for water, lunch, or rest o Working with dangerous chemicals and equipment without adequate protection o Having to come to work when they are sick or risk losing their job. * Darigold has been asked to meet with the workers, and has steadfastly refused to do so o Letters have been written by members of the community o Darigold Vice President and General Counsel met for two hours with the executive director and a board member of the Oregon Farm Worker Ministry, but refused to consider meeting with the workers o Darigold calls itself a "socially responsible company" yet turns the other way in the face of labor abuses committed by its members.