Today we march for Diego, Alexia, and all farmworkers suffering abuse
Diego and his family worked on a farm producing Hannaford-brand milk. When Diego’s mother was beaten so severely by a supervisor that she lost consciousness, Diego confronted the supervisor. In response, he came to their house that evening with a machete and tried to break down the door.
When Diego called the cops to save his family’s life, their boss blamed him for the loss of her supervisor. Diego recalls: “The only thing she said was: ‘Who’s going to milk the cows in the morning?’”
He and his family were fired and kicked out of their home. “The boss threw our paychecks in the trash and said ‘there’s your money.’ She said she never wanted to see us there again.”
Diego and Alexia recount this story in a new video. He concludes:
“The truth is it’s extremely difficult to be a worker on farms that aren’t part of Milk With Dignity because there are many cases of abuse and extremely low wages. If we don’t speak up about what we experience then it keeps happening. Abuse and poor treatment on these farms are far more common than you might think.”
Like so many other farmworkers facing abuse, Diego submitted a complaint to Hannaford through the company’s “Speak-Up Line.” Hannaford created the complaint mechanism for workers in its supply chain after years of farmworkers denouncing abuses. But rather than provide protection, the Speak-Up Line – like so much of Hannaford’s response to the Milk with Dignity campaign – exists just to sweep abuses under the rug.
As in the case of Jesús shared earlier this week, Hannaford waited months before dismissing the complaint, characterizing the brutal string of assaults by a supervisor as “a dispute between coworkers that occurred away from work” and concluding that “each of these allegations has been investigated and determined to be inconsistent with what was observed.”
Just yesterday, Hannaford released a statement to the press doubling down on their abandonment of farmworkers. “Hannaford’s investigators have substantiated no actionable wrongdoing on the part of any employers.”
Abuses like these – and Hannaford’s unwillingness to take any action to protect the rights and well-being of farmworkers in its supply chain – are why we are marching in Portland, Maine today.