Farmworkers deserve better!

In January, a new President and Congress took office promising a repudiation of the prior administration's dehumanizing attacks on immigrants. But early momentum – including a moratorium on deportations and the introduction of a bill to provide status to all undocumented immigrants – has faltered. Just as happens every time discussion of immigration reform begins, politicians and the media have diverted attention to a "crisis" on the southern border framed to stoke xenophobic fears. And in Washington, the House of Representatives has passed a "reform" bill originally crafted under the Trump Administration: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA).

The FWMA masquerades as immigration reform while failing immigrant farmworkers at every turn. While the bill would provide a pathway to status for some undocumented farmworkers, it requires that beneficiaries continue working in agriculture for up to 8 years to qualify and excludes many workers, among them those who cannot continue working due to injury. In exchange for this limited and lengthy pathway to protection, the bill mandates that agricultural employers to use E-Verify, forcing unprotected farmworkers off the books and making them more vulnerable to abuse. Finally, the bill expands the flawed H-2A agricultural visa program without providing necessary oversight or adequate protections.

The FWMA takes more interest in providing low-cost labor for Big Ag than in protecting the human rights of farmworkers. If passed, the law would create a captive workforce unable to speak out against abuse, organize for better conditions, or take action to defend their rights, because their ability to remain in the country relies on their continued employment. This outcome benefits an agricultural system that has always been predicated on cheap and captive labor; it does not benefit farmworkers. And farmworkers deserve better.

Migrant Justice joins many farmworker and immigrant rights organizations around the country in opposing the harmful Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Learn more about the bill and write to you Senators to tell them to oppose the FWMA!

Call Hannaford to Demand Milk with Dignity!

Post-action update: over 350 calls made!

Farmworkers need your support today in their fight for rights and dignity. For over a year, Hannaford Supermarkets has been ignoring the workers milking cows to produce Hannaford-brand milk. Dairy workers labor long hours in dangerous conditions for little pay and lack basic protections – all while Hannaford has been making record profits during the pandemic.

Today, March 3rd, we are asking our supporters around the country to flood Hannaford with messages. Call Hannaford's President Mike Vail to tell him to treat farmworkers fairly and join Milk with Dignity! Our last call-in action generated over 200 calls to the Hannaford President's office in just one day. This pressure forced the company to issue a public statement in response, making commitments to clean up their supply chain and ensure fair treatment for workers. Until now, however, these commitments have not been backed up by action, and Hannaford has yet to take any steps to stamp out abuses on the farms producing their store-brand milk.

Let's keep the pressure on by jamming their phone lines and filling their voicemails. Hannaford President Mike Vail needs to hear loud and clear that his customers expect accountability and demand action!

A Valentine's Day Gift for Hannaford Supermarkets

Dairy workers recently paid a visit to a Hannaford Supermarket in St. Albans, VT. Workers arrived with a Valentine's Day message: "Hannaford, don't break our hearts: Join Milk with Dignity!"

After speaking with the store manager and asking him to pass the message to company president Mike Vail, workers left a gift: dozens of heart-shaped helium balloons with Milk with Dignity stickers, a reminder for customers of the company's unfulfilled responsibility to the farmworkers behind Hannaford-brand milk.

Housing in the Hannaford Dairy Supply Chain: “On one half they still keep the tractors, and on the other half is where we live.”

Facundo works on a farm that produces milk for Hannaford Supermarkets. For years, he and his five co-workers lived in an “apartment” built into the side of a garage. “On one half they still keep the tractors, and on the other half is where we live.”

Organizing through Migrant Justice, the workers asked repeatedly for repairs or new housing. After many delays, Facundo and his co-workers have finally moved out of the garage. While we celebrate workers’ persistence and courage – and that they won’t have to spend another winter living in such inhumane conditions – we must recognize that these conditions are intolerable and should never have been permitted in the first place.

While the farmworkers behind Hannaford-brand milk are forced to “innovate” – sleeping on concrete troughs next to tractors and taking pains to avoid rats and mold – Hannaford President Mike Vail sleeps in a $2 million seaside mansion.

Do you think it’s time for Hannaford to get with the program? Take these three actions:

Or click "Read More" to get the full story!

Mike Vail: Don't be a Scrooge!

For many dairy workers, this Christmas will be like any other day: up before dawn for a long, unbroken shift of dangerous work for little pay, then home to crowded and drafty housing. For workers on Milk with Dignity farms, Christmas is a paid holiday, just one of the many guarantees provided by our worker-driven human rights program.

The program's dignified conditions recently inspired an endorsement from the National Farm Worker Ministry, a faith-based organization comprised of dozens of congregations and religious communities around the country. The Ministry wrote this week to Hannaford President Mike Vail, urging the supermarket chain to join Milk with Dignity:

Milk with Dignity aligns with our values in the way that the program gives farm workers oversight regarding their living and working conditions. We believe that, like everyone, farm workers deserve to live and work in safety and dignity with just compensation. By signing on to Milk with Dignity, Hannaford has the opportunity to be a leader in taking responsibility for the rights and well-being of workers in your supply chain.

Join with the National Farm Worker Ministry in calling on Hannaford to join Milk with Dignity. This Christmas, tell company President Mike Vail: "Don't be a Scrooge!"


"a beacon of hope:" Our 2020 year in review

2020 has been a year of nearly unparalleled loss, pain, and struggle. We have felt this acutely at Migrant Justice: we mourn the death of beloved community member Durvi Martinez, who died of Covid-19 after being held for months in ICE detention and deported. Yet amid this year of darkness, the courageous organizing of Migrant Justice has been a beacon of hope, showing that even in the most difficult of times change is possible. In the past twelve months – despite the hardships – Migrant Justice has never relented, persevering to win a series of inspirational human rights victories.

Click "Read More" to read about our incredible and impactful achievements over the past year.

13 Food and Agriculture Organizations Call on Hannaford to Join Milk with Dignity

Last week, thirteen food and agriculture organizations collectively penned a letter to Mike Vail, the president of northeast supermarket chain Hannaford. The groups added their names to the thousands who are urging Hannaford to join the Milk with Dignity program. The letter finished with a powerful call to action:

“We believe that, like everyone, farmworkers deserve to live and work in dignity. By signing on to Milk with Dignity, Hannaford has the opportunity to be a leader in taking responsibility for the rights and wellbeing of workers in their supply chain. Farmworkers, consumers, and all who value human rights over profits are united in calling for Milk with Dignity. It is time for Hannaford to get with the program and ensure that farmworkers’ human rights are protected. We urge you to join Milk with Dignity.”

Click Read More to learn about the shocking conditions in Hannaford´s dairy supply chain and farmworkers' organizing for respect, rights, and dignity!

Press Release: Migrant Justice settles federal lawsuit on ICE retaliation

Migrant Justice settles federal lawsuit on ICE retaliation: Trump administration agrees to terms in First Amendment suit days before election

 In a settlement to a major federal lawsuit, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has agreed not to deport the immigrant activists who sued the agency after suffering retaliatory arrests, and to instruct officers not to target people “for exercising First Amendment rights.” Immigrant farmworkers with Vermont-based human rights organization Migrant Justice led a march today to Burlington’s federal courthouse to claim victory and file the settlement in Migrant Justice v. Wolf.  

“With this settlement, we have shown that we won’t back down in the face of ICE’s abuses. They have tried to silence us by terrorizing our community and targeting our leaders, but we are here today to say that we will not be silenced,” said Victor Diaz, a Migrant Justice leader and plaintiff.

Read more for the full press release!

Milk with Dignity Report is Live! Delegations Deliver Report to 25 Hannaford stores

The first Milk with Dignity Biennial Report is now public! The 68-page report documents the tremendous progress made in 2018 and 2019, the first two years of the program’s existence. In that time, we have begun to achieve the “new day for human rights in the dairy industry” that we predicted upon signing the first Milk with Dignity agreement with Ben & Jerry’s on October 3rd, 2017.

The report shows two years of incredible achievements, made possible by the program’s worker-driven structure, comprehensive monitoring by the Milk with Dignity Standards Council, and strong enforcement mechanisms backed up by the market power of Ben & Jerry’s. It weaves together compelling case studies and extensive data to tell the story of how Milk with Dignity is transforming the dairy industry.

On Saturday – three years to the day after Ben & Jerry’s became the program’s first participating company – farmworkers and supporters gathered in downtown St. Albans to present these findings and more from the Milk with Dignity report.

Read more for a full photo report of the press conference and delegations!

10/3 Milk with Dignity Report to be Released!

On October 3rd, Migrant Justice and the Milk with Dignity Standards Council will release a report documenting the first two years of the Milk with Dignity Program. Covering hundreds of dairy workers, the program is achieving unprecedented transformations on dairy farms throughout Vermont and New York, and we are excited to share a detailed report of these accomplishments.

10/3 will mark three years since Ben & Jerry's became the first company to join the Milk with Dignity Program and a full year since we first publicly called on supermarket chain Hannaford to follow suit. We will hold a press conference in Taylor Park in downtown St. Albans, VT. St. Albans is the epicenter of northern Vermont's dairy industry and home to the dairy cooperative to which Milk with Dignity farms belong. Workers and farmers in the program, as well as representatives from Ben & Jerry's and the Milk with Dignity Standards Council, will speak about the Program's incredible accomplishments.