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.

FTUSA: Shovel your shit somewhere else!

Migrant Justice has sent a letter alongside nearly three dozen labor rights, farmer, and farmworker organizations addressed to the CEO of "Fair Trade USA" (FTUSA). In it, we call on the group to stop a proposed pilot that it claims will improve labor conditions in the dairy industry.

FTUSA has a long history of slapping "fair trade" labels on products without protecting the rights of the workers making those products. While claiming to support workers, they essentially work as a PR firm for brands. This "fair-washing" confuses consumers, sweeps abuses under the rug, and actively undermines workers' efforts to organize to win rights and protections. Now, they are developing a program for the dairy industry with yogurt company Chobani.

“As workers, we have fought hard to change the terrible conditions we face on farms,” says Vermont dairy worker and Migrant Justice leader Rossy Alfaro. “We have created a program that is actually making a difference and enforcing our rights. Now Fair Trade USA is coming along, dressed up like a program that helps workers, but it’s really only propaganda for the companies that are getting rich while we suffer.

Read the full letter here or click "Read More" to learn about the differences between fair-washing programs like FTUSA and worker-driven programs like Milk with Dignity.

Hannaford Supermarkets: No More Empty Commitments!

While Hannaford profits off the pandemic, farmworkers in the company’s supply chain continue to be paid poverty wages. And in some cases, like that of farmworker Gustavo, they are not being paid at all. Gustavo worked on a farm in northern Vermont until he was recently fired without cause.

"All of a sudden the boss told me that I was out of a job and I had to leave. He didn’t pay me the $2,500 that he owed, he just said he would pay me tomorrow. But the next day I called him and he said the same thing. Days went by but my pay never came. Eventually he stopped answering his phone. I was scared to go to his house to ask for my wages because the farm is close to the border and I knew he could retaliate against me."

Eventually, Gustavo reached out to Migrant Justice and the organization supported him in filing a wage theft claim with the Department of Labor. With this support, Gustavo successfully recovered his stolen wages, but this outcome is the exception to the norm. 20% of Vermont dairy workers have experienced wage theft similar to what happened to Gustavo.

Read more to learn more about Gustavo's case and take action to hold Hannaford accountable!

Governor Announces $2 million for Immigrant Relief!

We are so excited to share this news: Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced his budget proposal on August 18th – and included $2 million for the Immigrant Families Coronavirus Relief Fund!

This is a huge step forward, but the fight isn't over yet. The Governor's proposal now heads to the legislature; over the next several weeks, state senators and representatives will debate the proposal before approving a final budget.

We need to tell legislators that the Governor's $2 million is a good start but isn't enough! The legislature must fully fund the Immigrant Families Coronavirus Relief Fund – $5 million in total – in the FY2021 budget.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are meeting jointly next week to hear public testimony on the Governor's budget proposal. Immigrant farmworkers will be testifying; will you join them?

COVID Solidarity Fund: We've done our part, will the Governor do his?

Over the past three weeks, Migrant Justice distributed nearly $200,000 to over 400 members of Vermont’s immigrant farmworker community. We created our COVID Solidarity Fund to meet the needs of a community that has been unjustly excluded from federal relief during the pandemic.

hough we are proud of our ability to provide this necessary relief to so many, we also know that private donations are an inadequate response to a public health crisis. Our efforts could not reach all excluded workers in Vermont, and payments did not rise to the $1,200 that others received in stimulus funds from the federal government. ​

On Tuesday August 18th, Governor Phil Scott will announce his budget proposal for the remainder of fiscal year 2021 (beginning this October). He needs to hear from you that this is a priority for the state.

Durvi Martinez, ¡Presente!

Migrant Justice leader Durvi Martinez died on July 1st from COVID-19. Durvi contracted coronavirus soon after being deported from Vermont to Mexico. Durvi, a trans woman who had suffered severe violence before immigrating to the United States, was deported despite a pending asylum claim.

Before being deported, Durvi was part of the farmworker community in Vermont and a member of Migrant Justice. They were a brave and outspoken advocate for immigrant and LGBTQ rights. Durvi will be remembered as a loving and supportive friend.

Durvi was arrested by ICE in January, 2020 and spent three months detained in deplorable conditions. They were held in an all-male section of the prison, denied medication, and suffered severe weight loss. Durvi’s months in detention led to a weakened immune system that likely increased their susceptibility to the virus that ultimately took their life.

Durvi was in the midst of preparing an asylum application based on the horrific and systemic violence that they experienced as a trans person in Mexico. When the coronavirus pandemic began spreading in immigration detention centers in March, ICE chose to quickly deport Durvi, ignoring the asylum claim and failing to notify Durvi’s lawyer. Rather than releasing Durvi, ICE deported them to their death.

Migrant Justice unequivocally denounces Durvi’s unjust detention and deportation; we hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement responsible for their death. 

Hannaford profits soar: "Due to COVID-19, demand increased significantly"

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a mass economic upheaval. But while millions across the country have lost their jobs, and small businesses are facing bankruptcy, Hannaford is seeing its profits soar. In a recent financial statement, Hannaford’s parent company – the multinational supermarket conglomerate Ahold-Delhaize – wrote: “Due to COVID-19, demand … increased significantly,” adding that their stores in the U.S. “experienced approximately 34% comparable sales growth.” Over the last three months, their stock price has risen by over 25%.

And while Hannaford is making money hand over fist, its parent company just released its “Inaugural Human Rights Report.” The report makes bold claims about the company’s commitments to human rights, including in its supply chains, writing “If we find ... serious violations of occupational health and safety regulations, we will suspend our relationship with that supplier.”

Ahold-Delhaize’s human rights commitments should spur action. Click "Read More" to see the full story and learn how to take action!