Success! Hundreds of customers turn away from Hannaford Supermarkets

This year’s Mayday action at Hannaford Supermarket was a huge success! From 7am to 11pm, farmworkers and allies picketed, rallied, marched, and chanted, calling on Hannaford customers to refrain from shopping at the store. The response was overwhelming: hundreds of potential customers respected the picket line and turned away, decreasing Hannaford’s sales at its Williston location by double digits.

Head to our website for the full photo-report from Mayday’s “Don’t Buy” action! [link]

On May 1st, for the first time, dairy workers called for a one-day boycott to protest Hannaford’s refusal to stop abuses on the farms behind their store-brand milk. The previous week, diligent volunteers had tallied the daily customer total at the store in Williston, Vermont at 1,750. During Mayday’s dawn-to-dusk picket, that total plummeted by more than 300 customers, a decrease of 17%. This result shows that many Hannaford customers are willing to withhold their purchases in solidarity with farmworkers and to demand Milk with Dignity.

The action on International Workers’ Day felt like a full-day festival. Throughout the day, farmworkers were joined on the picket line by union members, faith communities, farmers, and students: nuns, high schoolers, and nurses all chanted together, calling for Milk with Dignity. Farmworkers delivered homemade meals of tamales, empanadas, and barbacoa, keeping the ralliers fed. Bread & Puppet brought a massive puppet, and brass bands provided musical accompaniment. Picketers cooled off with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (from Milk with Dignity farms!), and a cow with a Mayday garland of daffodils made an appearance.

Migrant Justice thanks the many groups who joined Mayday’s picket, including: AFL-CIO Vermont, Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), American Federation of Teachers - Vermont, Champlain Valley Democratic Socialists of America, Education Justice Coalition of Vermont, FreeHer - Vermont, Ganas student group of Bennington College, Green Mountain International Workers of the World, Greensboro United Church of Christ, Jewish Voice for Peace - Addison County, Jewish Voice for Peace - Vermont, Juntos student group of Middlebury College, Juntos student group of St Michael's College, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Rights and Democracy - Vermont, Rural Vermont, Sisters of Mercy - Vermont, students from South Burlington High School, students from Winooski High School, Unitarian Church of Montpelier, Vermont Coalition for Palestinian Liberation, Vermont Releaf Collective, and the Vermont Workers Center.

Journalists also came by throughout the day and TV stations reported live from the picket line. Reports from NBC Channel 5 and ABC/Fox broadcast farmworkers’ message to thousands more.

Among the many farmworkers who spoke, Migrant Justice leader Olga Cruz rallied the crowd, providing direct testimony and a clear call to action.

I’ve worked on farms enrolled in Milk with Dignity and on farms outside the Program, and I know the difference it makes. Working on a Milk with Dignity farm means I won’t be discriminated against for being an immigrant or harassed for being a woman. It means I will be paid as much as the men and will have rights to sick days and vacation pay. It means that someone will have my back when I need to speak up.

Workers are here today, telling customers to support our struggle and not to shop at Hannaford. What happens next is up to [Hannaford President] Mike Vail. We are committed to doing what it takes to fight for Milk with Dignity. That’s not a threat; that’s a promise!

Olga’s words are a strong reminder of the power of the Milk with Dignity Program. Hannaford continues to respond to pressure from workers and consumers by publicizing empty commitments and advancing toothless initiatives, but the solution is in front of their faces: partner with farmworkers and join a program with a proven track record addressing the systemic, complex problems in the dairy industry. Hannaford, it’s time to join Milk with Dignity!

Check out the photos from the Mayday picket for Milk with Dignity and see find additional posts on our facebook, instagram, and twitter.

Farmworkers and allies lined the entrances to the Hannaford store in Williston from opening to close

Whole families came out to the picket line to demand Milk with Dignity

Every car entering the Hannaford parking lot was offered a flyer describing the abuses behind Hannaford-brand milk and urging them to respect the one-day boycott. The crowd cheered every time a car respected the picket line and turned around!

Farmworker leaders addressed the crowd throughout the day, keeping spirits high

Workers and consumers (even the youngest ones!) demand Milk with Dignity!

Famed Vermont puppeteer troupe Bread & Puppet swung by…

…as did Secilia the cow!

Local band Sambatucada kept the rhythm…

… joined on percussion by farmworkers

Reporters came throughout the day to interview picketers

In the afternoon, as numbers swelled, we joined together for a rally in front of the store…

… followed by a march down one of Vermont’s busiest commercial streets

Get up! Get down! Milk with Dignity is coming to town!

Pa’rriba, Pa’lante, Justicia Migrante!

Allied organizations led delegations to the store manager throughout the day – and were met with a less than enthusiastic response…

… but spirits remained high nonetheless!

As with every Migrant Justice action, home-cooked Mexican food was on the menu…

… and picketers took periodic breaks from marching and chanting to refuel and refresh.

Dozens of security guards and cops ringed Hannaford’s property for the duration of the action. After looking on hungrily throughout the day – and after many repeated offers to share a meal – they took some empanadas home with them at the end of the night!