Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

HERSHEY EXPLOITS FOREIGN STUDENTS



Democracy Now looks at the story of 300 foreign students who came to the United States as part of a work-study program, and found themselves engaged in what they refer to as captive labor at a Hershey’s packing plant in Palmyra, Pennsylvania. The students — from Eastern Europe and Asia — went on strike two weeks ago, after they were reportedly required to lift heavy boxes, work eight-hour shifts beginning at 11 p.m., and stand for long periods of time while packing candy on a fast-moving production line. Federal agencies have launched four investigations into the alleged exploitation.

The walkout apparently marks the first time that foreign students have engaged in a strike to protest their employment. The guest workers are demanding a return of the $3,000 to $6,000 each student paid for the cultural exchange program to work at Hershey; that Hershey end exploitation of J-1 student cultural exchange workers; and that the 400 jobs the guest workers filled instead be given to local workers paid a living wage.

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