Home » Maine dispatch: advocates for migrant workers on dairy farms rally for rights

Maine dispatch: advocates for migrant workers on dairy farms rally for rights

by Derek Andrews
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JURIST staffer Pitasanna Shanmugathas attended the rally described on this dispatch.

On Saturday, over 100 people assembled in Portland, Maine, to point out their solidarity with the rights of migrant staff. The Milk with Dignity marketing campaign, advocating for farm staff in New England, known as upon Hannaford Supermarkets, an American retail chain, to take motion. The target of the marketing campaign was to deal with labor and housing circumstances on dairy farms, particularly these in Maine that provide milk to Hannaford’s retailer model. The organizers are urging Hannaford to signal a farmworker-authored code of conduct that units requirements to advertise dignified working circumstances and truthful remedy for farmworkers in dairy provide chains, together with compliance with labor legal guidelines, guaranteeing well being and security, and offering appropriate housing and truthful compensation. Whereas the marketing campaign has gained assist from different corporations, Hannaford has to this point refused to signal the code of conduct.

This marketing campaign is led by Vermont-based farm employee group Migrant Justice and was based following the dying of Jose Obeth Santiz Cruz in 2009, who misplaced his life in a mechanized gutter scraper incident on a dairy farm in Vermont. Notably, the marketing campaign has made vital progress by gaining the dedication of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream which signed the code of conduct in 2017.

Law enforcement officials and safety guards surrounded the perimeter of the Hannaford retailer in South Portland, the place protestors on Saturday have been demonstrating. Migrant Justice organizer Will Lambek stood earlier than a heavy police and safety presence passionately studying a sequence of written complaints from farm staff. These highly effective grievances highlighted points like underage staff dealing with chemical substances with out protecting gear, unsanitary and unsafe housing circumstances on farms, and the relentless exploitation of injured staff. One specific account from a farmworker described a life-and-death state of affairs; the complainant said that “the supervisor on the farm the place my household and I labored was a really violent man. He would pressure us to work additional hours, didn’t enable us to take meals breaks, and consistently insulted us. My mom and I needed to work eleven hours a day. Our housing had pest infestations, and my employer didn’t care. In the future the supervisor was consuming…he [came] into our room…he was carrying a machete and began to threaten us. He wished to harm my mom. I made a decision to name the police. The supervisor denied every thing to the police. My boss got here to see what was occurring, she received upset with us, [and] took the supervisor’s facet. She fired us.” After studying the complaints to the general public, Lambek handed the written complaints to a safety official demanding that it’s seen by Hannaford’s President, Michael Vail.

Maine State Consultant Thom Harnett has acknowledged that most of the considerations raised by the farm staff are authorized beneath Maine regulation. Farmworkers usually are not thought-about staff and lack the precise to prepare with out risking termination.

In response to Saturday’s protest, Hannaford stated that it acknowledges the significance of farmworkers in its meals methods. Nonetheless, the corporate said that these points transcend its direct management or affect. Whereas Hannaford supermarkets haven’t but signed the farmworker-authored code of conduct, the organizers and supporters stay dedicated to the trigger.

Source / Picture: jurist.org

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