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21 Jun 2023

USA: Workers allege abuse on farms supplying Hannaford supermarkets, with complaints raised through hotline ignored; incl. co response

For years, farmworkers have called on Hannaford Supermarkets to take responsibility for the rights and well-being of the workers behind Hannaford-brand milk by joining the Milk with Dignity Program. Hannaford has responded that participation in Milk with Dignity is unnecessary, because the company’s “Standards of Engagement” sufficiently protect workers’ rights. The centerpiece of that claim is Hannaford’s “Speak-Up Line:” following years of farmworkers denouncing deplorable conditions, the supermarket chain launched a hotline for workers in its supply chain.

Over the past year, farmworkers have put Hannaford’s “Speak-Up Line” to the test. Workers on ten farms submitted complaints about abuse and mistreatment. What has their experience shown? On every front, Hannaford’s system has failed to protect farmworker rights, according to the NGO Migrant Justice.

When the company has investigated, it has taken an average of over 100 days to resolve the complaint. In some cases, Hannaford has claimed that the abuses are not their problem – despite strong evidence that the farm is in Hannaford’s supply chain; in others, the complaint was deemed “inconsistent with what was observed,” following cursory investigations completely lacking in worker engagement. In two cases, the company admitted that violations did occur but failed to take serious remedial action. None of the workers who submitted complaints through Hannaford's "Speak-Up Line" has received any remedy for the abuses that they have experienced.

Abuses reported by workers include:

  • Violence and verbal abuse from supervisors - including being threatened with a machete
  • 12-14 hour days and forced overtime, without breaks or meals
  • Inadequate and overcrowded housing, with pest infestations and mold, and no heating in winter
  • No sick pay, and having to work while injured
  • Lack of washing and sanitation facilities
  • Unfair treatment, unhealthy and unsafe living conditions
  • A culture of fear which prevented workers from speaking up
  • Lack of protective gear for hazardous work (including minors)

The Resource Centre asked Hannaford's and its parent company Ahold-Delhaize to respond to the allegations. Full responses are included below.

Company Responses

Ahold Delhaize View Response
Hannaford (part of Ahold Delhaize) View Response
Ahold Delhaize View Response