Vermont Business Magazine Farmworkers will lead weekly pickets of Hannaford Supermarkets to protest poor conditions in the company’s dairy supply chain. Dairy workers and allies will engage with store managers and shoppers to raise awareness and urge the company to join the Milk with Dignity Program, according to advocacy organization Migrant Justice.
When: Weekly actions from 5:45-6:30pm on the following dates:
Where: In front of the Hannaford Supermarket at 935 Shelburne Rd, South Burlington, VT
Who: Farmworkers and Hannaford customers will participate in the pickets. The actions are organized by Migrant Justice, a farmworker-led human rights organization
Farmworker organization Migrant Justice created the Milk with Dignity program to address low pay, poor conditions, and systemic human rights violations in the northeast dairy industry. Since 2019, the group has invited Hannaford Supermarkets to join the program. This picket is one of many actions taken by farmworkers and Hannaford customers urging the company to improve its dairy sourcing practices.
In 2017, following a lengthy public campaign, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream agreed to implement Milk with Dignity in the company’s northeast dairy supply chain. The agreement was heralded by the New York Times as a step to “improve migrant dairy workers’ conditions.”
Farmworker leader Enrique Balcazar called the landmark agreement “a new day for dairy, a new day for the human rights of farmworkers” and then Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim proclaimed: “This is a first for the dairy industry anywhere in the world. Innovation is challenging, but if we get this right, it’s a win, win, win for workers, farmers, and buyers.”
By joining Migrant Justice’s Milk with Dignity program, Ben & Jerry’s committed to source 100% of its northeast dairy supply chain from farms that comply with a comprehensive, worker-authored code of conduct. The company pays a premium to participating farms, Migrant Justice educates workers on their rights in the program, and a third-party auditor – the Milk with Dignity Standards Council (MDSC) – monitors farms’ compliance.
The program’s recent report documents the impact of Milk with Dignity in its first five years of implementation. The program has grown to cover hundreds of farmworkers on dozens of farms in Vermont and New York, covering approximately 20% of Vermont’s dairy industry. Using premium payments from Ben & Jerry’s, farmers have invested over $3.4 million in raises and improvements to workplace and housing conditions.
The 2022 report – and previous reports in 2020 and 2019 – combine rigorous quantitative analysis of labor improvements and powerful stories from farmworkers and owners participating in the program.
Migrant Justice has publicly called on supermarket chain Hannaford to follow Ben & Jerry’s lead by joining Milk with Dignity and committing to source its store-brand milk from farms enrolled in the program. Hannaford has claimed to have implemented standards of engagement requiring suppliers to “treat workers fairly” but has yet to take meaningful action to address the documented abuses in its dairy supply chain (regarding health and safety, housing, retaliation, and violence).
Migrant Justice’s campaign has received support from national faith organizations, food and agricultural organizations, company shareholders, and thousands of individuals who have taken action in support of Milk with Dignity.
Source: Migrant Justice. 10.3.2022.