On Aug. 17, one month to the day before the launch of Occupy Wall Street, hundreds of student workers from around the world occupied the factory floor of the Hershey's chocolate packing plant in Pennsylvania to expose Hershey’s corporate greed. The students had paid $3,000-6,000 each for a cultural exchange, but became captive laborers for the Hershey’s Corporation instead.
Hershey’s labor recruiter, CETUSA, was exposed in a front-page New York Times story as a temp agency that masquerades as a non-profit while luring students into captive labor through the J-1 visa program.
“You wanted a cultural exchange,” a CETUSA representative told one of the student workers at the Hershey’s plant. “This is America and this is the way we do things here.”
The U.S. State Department certified CETUSA to issue J-1 visas, leading thousands of cultural exchange students into captive labor over the course of years. CETUSA continues to operate in more than 50 countries, and is recruiting now for the next season of work.
Tell the State Department today: Shut CETUSA down!
These 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 under brutal conditions, and faced constant threats of retaliation and deportation by CETUSA and its fellow Hershey’s subcontractors.
I am deeply concerned that CETUSA continues to supply student workers from more than 50 countries to U.S. corporations after these revelations.
I ask the U.S. State Department to immediately suspend and revoke CETUSA's right to issue additional J-1 cultural exchange visas, and conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into all allegations of improper conduct by CETUSA, free of interference from CETUSA representatives.