May Day and Migrant Justice in Portland

by | May 3, 2022 | Community Events, Labor, Life in Maine, Spotlight

On May Day, 2022, hundreds of people from thirty communities rallied to their nearby Hannafords to urge the corporation to respect dairy farm workers. As it stands, Hannaford cannot guarantee that the dairy they offer comes from farms that treat their workers with respect, fair wages and affordable housing. That’s why Migrant Justice has been working hard the last couple years to pressure Hannaford to ensure its dairy is sourced from farms that treat their workers well.

With one of the targeted Hannafords being in Portland, Maine, folks descended on the Back Cove Hannaford on May Day to urge its executives to change their policy regarding the sourcing of dairy products. Rebecca, who volunteers with the Migrant Justice project “Milk with Dignity,” said “We’re merely asking Hannaford to sign the Milk with Dignity Contract. It ensures fair wages, affordable housing, and it would only require Hannaford to pay a tiny bit more.” 

Demonstrators demanding Hannaford respect dairy farm workers.

There were over thirty people present, holding signs and calling for customers to support their cause. The fact that it fell on May Day probably helped pull people in. “It’s May Day, a chance to celebrate and organize workers,” said Joe D. from Saco. “The conditions of dairy workers directly affect us.” Izzy, an attendee, made it plain by saying, “this is an actionable task Hannaford can easily follow through with. Why don’t they?”

The protestors were present from 11 AM to 3 PM. They followed up their action with a rally at Back Cove Trails. Speakers addressed the holiday, workers’ rights, and wrapped up with a marching band rendition of Solidarity Forever. 

Attendees listen to speakers discuss workers’ rights on May Day.

As the United States gears up for a contentious midterm election with the right wing poised to take back power, this seemed to be a desperate plea by the left to remind all sympathizers that their voices are needed now as much as ever. While the specific demand was for Hannaford to respect dairy workers, the broader theme was more like “don’t give up!” And while most folks were focused on the direct demand of dairy workers’ rights, everyone seemingly shared the thoughts of Barney, an attendee who told me, “it’s a beautiful day for workers to wake up.”

T. Sinclair has an M.A. in History from the University of Maine. They are a life long Mainer and member of the Pine & Roses Editorial Collective.

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