Halfway through the Milk with Dignity Organizing Tour!
Posted Mon, 04/17/2023 - 12:57pm
We are halfway through the Milk with Dignity Organizing Tour! Over the past two weeks, farmworkers have traveled across Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, holding 25 organizing meetings with communities and taking action at Hannaford Supermarkets to demand Milk with Dignity. The next two weeks will take us to New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, as the Dignity Tour heads farther south.
As farmworkers connect with communities in schools, churches, farms, and libraries around the northeast, Hannaford’s parent company – Dutch multinational Ahold Delhaize – held its annual meeting of shareholders and Board of Directors. Executives celebrated their growing profits and market dominance: their U.S. brands are the top food retailers on the east coast and saw a 7% rise in sales over the past year.
Company executives spent much of the shareholder meeting boasting about various human rights and social responsibility commitments. Among them is the Speak-Up Line for supply chain workers that we recently profiled. After Hannaford announced the creation of the hotline, workers from 10 farms submitted complaints of grave labor abuses. Hannaford took on average over 100 days to “investigate” complaints – failing to actually visit farms or talk with workers – only to dismiss each and every abuse. Not a single worker in Hannaford’s dairy supply chain has benefited from the Speak-Up Line.
Migrant Justice participated in the shareholder meeting and shared a new, in-depth analysis of the failures of Hannaford’s Speak-Up Line to protect farmworkers – even by the company’s own metrics! – contrasted with the benefits of Milk with Dignity.
As in past years, executives dismissed worker concerns and defended their record. Last year, the company claimed that “Hannaford actively investigated allegations with their suppliers and agencies such as the federal and state level Departments of both Labor and Agriculture,” a claim easily disproved by open records request to the agencies, who confirmed that no such communication occurred.
This year, the company’s response to farmworkers’ experiences of the complaint line included the statement: “The Speak Up Line has been independently benchmarked by, among others, the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark.” The actual grade from the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark? A whopping 22.4 out of 100!
p.s. We need your support! Can you chip in $40 for a tank of gas to keep us on the road for the second half of the tour?