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Business and Economy

At Portland rally, dairy workers pressure Hannaford to improve farmworker protections

A group of people holding signs outside of a Hannaford supermarket. The signs read "Hannaford Join Milk with Dignity" and "Human Rights - Derechos Humanos"
Ari Snider
/
Maine Public
Farmworkers with the Vermont-based group Migrant Justice hold signs outside of the Forest Ave. Hannaford in Portland. The group has been asking the company to join its Milk with Dignity program for more than two years.

More than one hundred people — including dozens of dairy workers — rallied outside a Hannaford supermarket and marched through Portland Monday, urging the company to adopt supply chain reforms aimed at protecting farmworkers.

The rally was organized by Migrant Justice, a Vermont-based organization that advocates for farmworker rights.

For years, the group has been asking Hannaford, and other food retailers, to join its Milk with Dignity program, which requires them to pay a premium on dairy products to ensure that workers in the supply chain have adequate housing, paid sick days, and other protections.

A crowd of people holding signs walks up a residential street.
Ari Snider
Farmworkers and their supporters march past the USM campus in Portland on Monday. The event drew over 100 people.

Migrant Justice leader Enrique Balcazar said the group is focusing on Hannaford because they believe the company would have a big impact on the lives of dairy workers in the region if it signed onto the program, due to its dairy purchasing power.

Over the summer, a group of investors published a letter asking the company to join Milk with Dignity.

In a statement, Hannaford said it requires all its suppliers to sign a code of conduct assuring that labors laws are "followed stringently" and that workers are treated fairly and humanely.