Workers and consumers demand Milk with Dignity – not empty commitments and deceptive labels!

Last month you read about (and many of you participated in!) our action on International Workers Day. Two hundred farmworkers and supporters rallied in front of a Hannaford Supermarket calling on the company to join the Milk with Dignity program. With a lively picket line, street theater, and a 200-yard chain of over 1,300 postcards to the company president, we sent a clear message to Hannaford that they can’t hide from the human rights abuses behind their store-brand milk. Check out the new video from the May Day action!

The pressure on Hannaford is mounting, and we need you to help turn up the heat. Next Wednesday June 9th, we will hold a national call-in day, asking supporters around the country to call the grocery chain and voice their support for Milk with Dignity. Past days have generated hundreds of calls and have forced the company to respond publicly to the just demands of dairy workers.

We need volunteers to help drive calls to Hannaford. Can you join us for a brief training on Tuesday June 8th at 6pm? You’ll get the tools you need to contact supporters the following day.

It has never been more important to push for the expansion of Milk with Dignity. The program has proven its ability to transform labor and housing conditions in Ben & Jerry’s supply chain and to ensure farmworkers’ human rights. Other dairy companies – understanding that consumers don’t want to buy products made under abusive conditions – are looking to copy the success of Milk with Dignity. Unfortunately, they are prioritizing marketing over substance.

Last fall, we wrote about a plan in the works to develop a “Fair Trade Dairy” certification. The organization behind the new label, Fair Trade USA, has a well-documented history of fair-washing, slapping labels on products without meaningfully protecting workers’ rights. Without even waiting for the new certification standards to be finalized, Chobani (as part of its “Milk Matters” program) has begun to label its yogurt as Fair Trade Certified. This is purely an exercise in corporate PR and is actively opposed by the farmworkers whose rights would supposedly be protected by the certification. 

Don’t be fooled by deceptive labels like “Fair Trade Dairy!” To learn more, read this new report from the Fair World Project on how the certification fails workers – particularly when compared to worker-driven initiatives like Milk with Dignity.

It’s clear that dairy companies are hearing the calls for change. But from Hannaford’s empty commitments, to Chobani’s misleading certification, corporations are attempting to respond with PR gestures. Let’s show them that we won’t be misled. Protecting workers rights means listening to workers themselves. If dairy companies are serious about eliminating abuses, the only option is to join with worker-led programs like Milk with Dignity.