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Hershey’s ‘No Charlie’s Chocolate Factory’ August 23, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Immigration, Labor.
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Roger’s note: I am personally boycotting Hershey’s chocolate.  Now that’s dedication!
Published on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 by The Sydney Morning Herald


  by Jon Swaine


NEW YORK – It sounded like the perfect summer job.

Anger … a student protests against the working conditions at a Hershey’s factory. (Photo: AP)

Students from China, Africa and eastern Europe would work in a Hershey’s chocolate plant before using their earnings to travel the US and learn English.

“We have all seen Charlie’s chocolate factory,” said one student, 19-year-old Harika Duygu Ozer. Another said: “I thought we would see America like in movies.”

The factory, in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, did not live up to Roald Dahl’s thrilling world of chocolate waterfalls and infinite treats, however.

The 400 students, who each paid up to $US5940 ($5700) to join the State department’s cultural exchange scheme, claimed they were forced to become “captive workers”.

Shifts, often at night, consisted of lifting dozens of heavy boxes, trying to control fast-moving production lines, they said.

“They don’t care if you are small, you don’t have the power, you didn’t eat – they just care about their production,” one of the students said.

A spokesman for the National Guestworker Alliance, which is backing the group, said: “They were warned to stop complaining or they would be kicked out.”

The students walked out last week in protest at their conditions and pay, which after deductions and rent charges allegedly amounted to between $US40 and $US140 for 40 hours of work per week. They marched with dozens of supporters through Hershey itself.

Hershey said the plant was run by Exel, a logistics company. Exel said temporary workers were overseen by a third company, and that it had been told to stop hiring students from the scheme. It said students were informed of likely working conditions.

© 2011 Sydney Morning Herald
5 Comments so far
Posted by Stonepig
Aug 23 2011 – 8:54am
      Please boycott Hershey.  This is frigging ghastly.  Now instead of shooting aliens, we are making them pay to come here, (to learn English? are you kidding me?) and be treated like this?   Who the fuque are we?  Amnesty and the HRW and ACLU should be all over this.  Outrageous.   
Posted by Stonepig
Aug 23 2011 – 8:59am
      Hey Hershey…couldn’t find any Americans to work your lines for floor dropped peanuts?????   
Posted by Stonepig
Aug 23 2011 – 9:09am
      Hey Hershey…couldn’t find any Americans to work your lines for floor dropped peanuts?????        
Posted by pjd412
Aug 23 2011 – 11:17am
      They probably DO employ plenty of USAns. But unlike the foreigners, the USAns sullenly accept the conditions and wages of their work without complaint.  After all, the USA is the very best place in all the world, so surely, it couldn’t be any better than 60 hours of toil at a generous $7.50 per hour (less if you  are called a ‘1099 contractor”), couldn’t it?

Nothing new here.  The entire US labor movement in the late 19th/early 20th century was founded by foreign immigrants.  The anglo-saxon protestant natives accepted their lot in life, or even filled the ranks of the scabs and Mr. Blocks (look it up).   

Posted by PEAdvocate
Aug 23 2011 – 10:19am
      How long will it take before people realize that capitalism is akin to slavery?  Now the slave-drivers are subcontracted to insulate those who are really responsible.  I’ve mentioned this before but it just doesn’t seem to sink in – labor law today still refers to “the master-servant relationship”.  That is what capitalism is – just a different form of slavery; wage slavery and debt slavery.  We need to be talking about emancipation from capitalism.       

Labor Secretary Proposes Suspending Farm Rules March 15, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Immigration, Labor.
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by Steven Greenhouse

WASHINGTON – Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis announced Friday that she would suspend regulations that the Bush administration introduced in December to make it easier and cheaper for agricultural employers to use foreign workers in temporary jobs.


[U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis (L) has her arm raised by National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) member Helen Romero Shaw after speaking at the 2009 Forum in Washington March 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Jim Young)]U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis (L) has her arm raised by National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) member Helen Romero Shaw after speaking at the 2009 Forum in Washington March 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

Just hours after being officially sworn on Friday morning, Ms. Solis said she would suspend the regulations for nine months. The move could create turmoil for growers who had already applied to bring in temporary farm workers under the new rules. 

Last year, tens of thousands of foreign workers were brought in under the temporary agricultural program, known as H-2A, harvesting lettuce, sweet potatoes, tobacco, cucumbers, sugar cane and other crops. The new rules cut the wages that many of these workers will receive and reduced the amount that growers had to reimburse these workers for their travel. They also eased administrative burdens by letting employers simply attest that they had met various program requirements. Ms. Solis, who criticized the rules when she was in Congress, said suspending them was “the prudent and responsible action” to take “because many stakeholders have raised concerns about the H-2A regulations.”

Many farm worker and labor groups had attacked the Bush regulations, saying they would push down wages for H-2A workers and take away jobs from workers in the United States. Growers generally applauded the rules, saying they would reduce red tape in employing foreign seasonal workers who they said did arduous farm jobs that few Americans wanted to do.

Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the rules on Dec. 18, and they took effect on Jan. 17. Ms. Solis said the proposed suspension would be open for public comment for 10 days.

“It will throw a lot of people into limbo,” said Sharon Hughes, a consultant to many growers who use H-2A workers. “A lot of people have placed orders for these workers, and this will cause some panic in the industry.”

Erik Nicholson, a national vice president of the United Farm Workers, applauded Ms. Solis’s decision, calling the Bush rules “some of the worst setbacks for farm workers in decades.” He added, “They meant worse wages and worse housing conditions for these workers and worse discrimination against American workers.”

Labor Department officials said one reason for the suspension was a fear that there would be major administrative delays in granting temporary work visas.

In December, Ms. Solis, then a California representative, condemned the regulations.

“With many families already burdened by this bad economy,” she said, “our nation cannot afford these guest worker program changes. There is no question that the guest-worker program needs significant overhaul, but slashing wages and reducing basic rights for the most vulnerable workers in our country, especially hardworking Latino farm workers, is not the answer.”

Jasper Hempel, executive vice president of the Western Growers Association, praised the Bush rules as reducing red tape. But he said the nation needed legislation, known as the AgJOBS bill, that would stabilize the farm labor situation by giving the more than one million illegal farm workers a path to legalization.