“You get in the f—ing barn”: Announcing the Milk with Dignity Month of Action
Posted Wed, 08/30/2023 - 12:25pm
Vermont Public recently published an explosive report on violence and abuse on dairy farms in Hannaford Supermarkets’ supply chain. The report interviews Miguel, a farmworker who was assaulted and then fired by his employer.
Miguel was in the middle of a 12-hour overnight shift when he went outside the barn to speak with a volunteer from a local church selling food and medicine to the farmworkers. His employer approached Miguel, grabbed him, and shoved him back into the barn.
The police arrived on the scene following the incident, and the farm owner admitted to the assault and to yelling at Miguel to “get in the f––ing barn.” He then goes on to claim, without irony, that “we treat them so good” and that his is “one of the only farms around here that treat these guys excellent.”
The absurd disconnect between the employers’ self-perception and the reality of the abuse mirrors Hannaford’s own claims about its protections of farmworkers. Hannaford trumpets its corporate social responsibility, yet when Miguel used Hannaford’s complaint line to denounce this abuse, he had to wait months for a response. When it finally came, Hannaford wrote that it had issued a “formal warning” to the farm, but offered no assistance or remedy to Miguel. The farm faced no consequences and Miguel received no support from Hannaford.
The report contrasts Hannaford’s failures with the successes of the Milk with Dignity Program.
[R]esearchers say another important component is Milk With Dignity’s enforcement mechanism. Farm employers risk losing their milk supply contract if they retaliate against workers or take no action at all… The research on Milk With Dignity shows the program can improve conditions not only for farmworkers but for their employers, and by extension, the industry at large.
Farmworkers and consumers demand that Hannaford abandon its knock-off hotline and provide real protections by joining the Milk with Dignity Program. Migrant Justice is announcing September as a Month of Action, with weekly, worker-led pickets at Hannafords throughout the month.
March with the farmworker contingent at the Vermont Pride Parade on 9/10, and then join us on the picket line on the 13th, 22nd, or 28th. We will close out the month with a final action on October 3rd, coinciding with the anniversary of the launch of Milk with Dignity in 2017. Each picket will run from 5:30pm-7pm at the Hannaford on Shelburne Road in South Burlington and will conclude with a home cooked meal. These will be high-energy pickets: if you have an instrument, bring it with you!
p.s. Can’t make it to the picket in South Burlington? Take action at a Hannaford near you! Farmworkers are calling on allies to “adopt” their local Hannaford and organize an event in September. Sign up here!