“This is the reality that Hannaford tries to hide”
The dairy workers behind Hannaford-brand milk have begun another year without the rights and protections they deserve. The supermarket chain continues to avoid responsibility while profiting off the pain and suffering of the farmworkers who ensure their shelves are stocked.
Jesús works on a farm supplying milk to Hannaford stores. Last October, a coworker filed a complaint with Hannaford over the farm’s deplorable conditions. Workers milk cows for up to 13 hours without breaks for food. Six workers are lodged in a cramped housing unit, sharing three beds between them. The complaint – made through the official “ethics” line Hannaford set up for its suppliers following the launch of the Milk with Dignity campaign – went unanswered.
Watch the video above of Jesús describing the preventable workplace accident that resulted in the amputation of his toe. In his words: “This is the reality that Hannaford tries to hide” [Warning: sensitive content]
Jesús drives a small tractor – known as a skid steer – to clear cow stalls of hay and manure. As he started his shift, Jesús noticed that the skid steer was not in working order. He notified farm management three times but was told to use the machinery, despite the farm’s admission that it could not be used properly.
When Jesús was stepping off the skid steer at the end of his shift, the hydraulic system failed and his foot was crushed under the weight of the front bucket. His bones were broken and the tendon to his big toe was severed.
A coworker was able to release the pressure to lift the tractor bucket and bring Jesús to the hospital. Doctors ended up amputating Jesús’ big toe. The severity of his injuries – exacerbated by Jesús’ diabetes – meant that he could have easily lost his entire foot.
“I want you all to know that not everything is good on these farms, like they say. You can report machinery [as broken] and they won’t listen. That’s why I’m giving this testimony, so that we all fight for our rights. We have to fight so that our health and safety is protected on the job. I want Hannaford to see that not all dairy farms are like how you describe them. There’s work to be done. A lot of times workers aren’t listened to, and here’s the proof.”
On February 15th, a delegation will travel to the Hannaford headquarters in Scarborough, Maine. Farmworkers will request a meeting with company executives and once more extend an invitation to join the Milk with Dignity Program.
Mark your calendars! We ask all Milk with Dignity supporters to call the Hannaford offices on the 15th and urge them to open their doors to dairy workers. On Wednesday, support Jesús – and all farmworkers fighting for their rights and dignity – by making a call.
Want to help make the call-in action on the 15th a success? Sign up here to help drive calls to Hannaford throughout the day.