Hershey: Stop Exploiting Student Guestworkers
  • Petitioned Kirk Saville

This petition was delivered to:

The Hershey Company
Kirk Saville
The Hershey Company
John Bilbrey

Hershey: Stop Exploiting Student Guestworkers

    1. Petition by

      National Guestworker Alliance

February 2012


Signaling a sharp change of course in the country's largest international cultural exchange program, the State Department has banned a leading sponsor company from bringing foreign students to the United States for summer jobs and will add new restrictions to protect students from labor abuse, officials said Wednesday.

The removal of the sponsor, the Council for Educational Travel, USA, was intended to send a powerful message to dozens of private companies participating in the State Department's summer work program that they will have to monitor foreign students far more closely and ensure that participants are not exploited as cheap workers by employers.

The council, which is known as Cetusa, has been one of the biggest sponsors in the summer program and was responsible for placing about 400 foreign students last summer in a Pennsylvania plant packing Hershey's chocolates. In August, hundreds of those program participants staged a boisterous walkout from the plant to protest low pay and dangerous job conditions.


"I hope this sends a clear message to other recruiters like Cetusa, that we will not be your captive workers," said Harika Duygu Ozer, a medical student who spoke via Skype on Wednesday from Istanbul.


On August 17, hundreds of student guestworkers from around the world were joined by unemployed U.S. workers and labor leaders in a factory sit-in at the Hershey Chocolate Company packing plant in Pennsylvania.

The students paid $3,000-$6,000 each to come to the U.S. this summer for what they thought would be a cultural exchange program. Instead, they found themselves packing chocolates at the Hershey's plant in deeply exploitative conditions.

Their demands: end the exploitation of student workers at the Hershey's plant, return the money they paid for a cultural exchange, and make these jobs living wage jobs for local Pennsylvania workers.


Their storyyoutube.com/watch?v=8-h8EBP0JSs

Their open letter to Hershey's CEOyoutube.com/watch?v=Q1WaubnAR2o


Recent signatures


    1. New NY Times Article About Hershey's Exploitation of Student Workers

      The New York Times published a new article highlighting the exploitation of student guestworkers at Hershey's packing facility and the lack of oversight of the student exchange program. Check it out and spread the word!

    2. Hershey Hires Lobbyists to Avoid Labor Rights Scrutiny

      Amid growing scrutiny of Hershey's labor rights abuses, from its cocoa beans to its packing facility in Pennsylvania, the company has hired additional lobbyists to deflect attention from its exploitation of workers. Hershey recently hired the...

    3. Hershey's student workers in Times Square

      Justice at Hershey's NYC rally with students at noon today (Wed 8/31) at Times Square Hershey's store! Come on out and join us!

    4. Hershey’s Walkout Exposes J-1 Guestworker Scam

      From the National Guestworker Alliance: "Every year the U.S. State Department grades countries on human trafficking, but it would do well to look at its own J-1 visa program, which one organizer called 'the ultimate captive guestworker program.'"

    5. Justice at Hershey's in today's NYT

      Read the powerful NYT op-ed by Jennifer Gordon on Justice at Hershey's, "America's Sweatshop Diplomacy." Please pass along!

    6. Student action hitting Hershey's stock price

      Does Wall St. have a conscience after all? InvestorGuide says Justice at Hershey's campaign is hitting Hershey's stock price.

    7. Feds launch 4 probes into exploitation at Hershey's plant

      The students' action and your support has helped launch four federal investigations into exploitation at the Hershey's plant: by the Department of Labor, the U.S. State Department, and two by OSHA. Let's keep the pressure on!

    8. Reached 50,000 signatures
    9. Students release an open video letter to Hershey's CEO John Bilbrey

      The students tell in their own words why they went on strike what they're asking for. Please share to make sure Hershey's CEO John Bilbrey gets the message!

    10. Reached 25,000 signatures
    11. Exploited Students Strike Against Hershey

      The foreign students who were lied to about their "cultural exchange" to the U.S. and exploited by Hershey are striking against the company, demanding a refund of the money they paid to come to America.

    12. Reached 3,000 signatures
    13. Protesting Foreign Students At Hershey's Factory Reject Trip

      Hershey's developed a plan to send the students on a trip to see some of the United States' cultural and historical landmarks, but leaders of the protesting students rejected the idea flatly.

    14. Student Guestworkers' Personal Appeal to Hershey CEO

      Check out this video where student guestworkers make a personal appeal to Hershey CEO John Bilbrey calling for dignity and justice. Share the video with ten friends!

    15. Reached 100 signatures
    16. See Hershey's Response to the Guestworker's Sit-In and Strike

      Check out this video to see how Hershey responded a sit-in and strike led by student guestworkers yesterday.

    17. Reached 10 signatures
    18. New York Times Covers Student Guestworker Protest

      Check out coverage of yesterday's Hershey protest led by student guestworkers in the New York Times.


    Reasons for signing

    • Denise Denton HASTINGS, MI
      • over 2 years ago

      As if using non-Fair Trade cocoa and moving some production to Mexico weren't enough, Hershey's exploits students who PAID to come to the US???!! UNACCEPTABLE!!!

      Do the right thing: return the money appologize to the students, and hire the people from the town that was built around your factory!!

      I will spread the word of your disgusting deeds, and continue boycotting your candy/merchandise for as long as it takes for you to clean up your act!!

      P.S. Did you feel the sting of lost profits from Christmas candy sales? Cuz I didn't buy ANY (and I USED to buy ALOT!). Not from stores, vending machines, or fundraisers. ( I told my kid, OUT LOUD, in stores, why I won't buy Hershey's. Oh, it hurt my taste buds alright, but it was well worth it!!!) Probably not, since you stole those students' money!!!

    • Julia Boyer BALTIMORE, MD
      • almost 3 years ago

      I grew up near Hershey, and can attest to the fact that this happens. I've spoken to girls who thought they would be spending their summers with host families, learning about our culture and sharing their own. Instead, they were forced to work not only at the plant, but also the theme park. These practices need to stop, Hershey. Teenagers in PA always wanted to work at your park, but never could because you staffed it with guestworkers.

    • Kelly Coyne MEDINA, OH
      • almost 3 years ago

      This is wrong

    • Nicholas Anderson COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
      • almost 3 years ago

      You let me down hershey I can't believe that your morale vslue could drop so low and accept that kind of behavior. yeah I am definitly erasing hershey off the list.

    • Brian Cowell WESTPORT, IN
      • almost 3 years ago

      If there was ever a reason for me to sign this petition and then look for M&M Mars or Nestle candies when I go to the store, I think you just gave it to me. Worker exploitation is offensive enough when you do it on a small scale to American workers that can fight back. When you do it to foreign exchange students and charge them money for it, that's just plain reason enough NOT to eat a Reese's (forget the wrong way).


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