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Farmworker group says Hannaford's ethics help line hasn't fixed living conditions

English: A group of people holding signs, megaphones and a banner reading Human Rights Derechos Humanos. Español: Un grupo de personas alzando carteles, megáfonos y un banner que dice Human Rights Derechos Humanos.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Farmworkers and their allies march into the parking lot of the Hannaford store on Shelburne Road in South Burlington on Oct. 26, 2022. On Wednesday, Feb. 15, Migrant Justice is planning to head to Hannaford headquarters in Scarborough, Maine to request a meeting as part of a continued push to get the company to join the Milk With Dignity program.

This story was updated on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. with a statement from Hannaford.

A Vermont farmworker advocacy organization says Hannaford supermarkets' complaint system has not resolved poor housing and labor conditions among the company's dairy suppliers.

Migrant Justice says farmworkers have filed complaints about nine farms through Hannaford’s Speak Up Line, and none of those conditions have been improved as a result.

The complaints include a supervisor threatening violence with a machete, ten workers sharing a house with four rooms and inadequate heat, and 12- to 14-hour work days without meal breaks.

In a statement sent to Maine Public, Hannaford said each of the complaints had gone through an investigation, including some farm visits, and none had been substantiated.

Hannaford said it was committed to ensuring that its suppliers and farms treat their workers fairly and humanely, adhere to labor laws and meet Hannaford's code of conduct. A company spokesperson said Hannaford is "actively working" with private brand milk suppliers to further enforce the standards in Hannaford's direct suppliers and those suppliers' suppliers.

Farmworkers planned to travel to Hannaford headquarters Wednesday in Scarborough, Maine to ask the company to join its labor and housing rights program, Milk With Dignity. When companies sign onto the program, they pay farms premiums in return for adhering to a code of conduct.

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Corrected: February 14, 2023 at 9:12 PM EST
This post has been updated to reflect that Migrant Justice plans to travel to Hannaford's headquarters to request a meeting, not stage a protest.
Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.