(May 15, 2014) — Farmworkers employed at Darigold dairies have risked their jobs to photograph sick and injured cows they are regularly instructed to milk, according to the United Farmworkers of America. The union has released disturbing photos of sick cows it says were taken at Darigold dairies and is urging consumers to petition retailers that carry Darigold products to urge the dairy cooperative to ensure that both workers and animals are treated fairly.
“It is an affront to basic human dignity for workers to have to milk these cows, cows farmworkers know are in pain and need medical treatment, but to not be able to do anything about it,” said Jorge Valenzuela, Regional Director of the United Farm Workers. “We talk to workers on dozen of dairies that are part of the Darigold cooperative. We hear stories way too often about cows like these, but workers are afraid of protesting the abuse because they know they may very well be fired if they do.”
So workers milk sick and injured cows. (See more photos.)
TAKE A STAND! Thousands of UFW supporters are signing petitions calling on the major national retailers that sell Darigold products to ask Darigold to ensure both workers and animals are treated fairly. These retailers include Walmart, Safeway, Albertsons, Cash and Carry and Fred Meyer/QFC/Kroger. Sign the petition!
“The Humane Society of the United States stands by our friends at the United Farm Workers in speaking up for farm workers and the animals with whom they labor,” said Scott Beckstead, Oregon Senior State Director of the Humane Society USA. “In too many cases, both farm workers and farm animals are treated as little more than expendable commodities. Even worse, farm workers are too often forced to engage in abuse of dairy cows, such as when they’re tasked with cutting cows’ tails off — an inhumane and needless mutilation that renders cows unable to fend off the torment of biting flies.”
On May 5, consumers filed a federal class-action complaint against Darigold accusing the cooperative of violating workers rights and milking sick and injured cows. The Oregonian reports that the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, says the company bills itself as a champion of good labor practices and animal husbandry but in reality produces milk “under conditions where dairy cows are injured and sick, where despite suffering from bloody and swollen udders, cows are still milked, and where workers are denied the most basic labor protections, such as drinkable water, lunch rooms, meal and rest periods and an environment free of discrimination.”
The photos are exhibits in that lawsuit against Darigold. In sharing the disturbing photos with the public, the United Farmworkers of America hopes that Darigold will take action to protect both workers and dairy cows.
“Farmworkers feel strongly that not only should they not milk these cows, as they don’t want consumers to drink this milk, but they also want to make sure sick and injured cows receive prompt medical attention,” Valenzuela said.
The United Farm Workers urge supporters of Darigold workers to sign this petition urging Darigold’s retailers: “Do right by the Darigold cows, the workers and your consumers. Use your influence to call on Darigold to work with the UFW to ensure the humane treatment of all creatures — human and bovine.”