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Ben & Jerry's and Vermont scoop shop employees reach contract agreement

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has reached its first contract agreement with workers at a retail shop in the Vermont city where it was founded after the employees petitioned to unionize last year, Scoopers United and the brand announced Thursday.

About 40 workers at the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop in Burlington announced last April that they planned to form a union. Ben & Jerry’s, known as much for its social activism as its products and currently owned by consumer goods conglomerate Unilever, said it supported the workers’ plan.

“This joint celebration is a testament to the leadership and collaboration required of both parties to create such a monumental first contract,” the union said in a written statement on Thursday. “It also speaks to the ease that follows working with a company that prioritizes workers’ rights and their desires to unionize.”

Ben & Jerry's said in a statement that it remains “committed to operating our company in a way that is inclusive, and equitable."

“We are proud that Ben & Jerry’s attracts employees who embrace our values as we have reached this agreement thanks to these scoopers’ hard work and ownership in this effort,” it said.

Founded in 1978 , Ben & Jerry’s has not shied away from social causes. While many businesses tread lightly in politics for fear of alienating customers, the ice cream maker, which sells its products across the world, has taken the opposite approach, often espousing progressive causes.