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Justice at Hershey’s: Hershey’s vs. J1 Students

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

All the rage now is the infamous Hershey vs. J-1 student incident. You can find the link here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-h8EBP0JSs. It is a youtube video uploaded by the Guest Worker Alliance (http://guestworkeralliance.org). At the moment, the video has 45,110 views on youtube with 983 likes and 74 dislikes. This video, even though it is fifteen days old is now spreading on the internet like wild fire. It is NOW considered a viral video I guess you can say.

I watched the entire video and I was amazed and astounded to see what the fuck is going on at Hershey? They hire these international/foreign students to work for the company. The students pay from around $3000 to $6000 (I’m assuming US currency? They didn’t mention it but it seems like it) to work in the US for four months. They are promised opportunities, a great learning experience, meeting new people, and blah blah blah. Every company will say that, so it’s kind of irrelevant. What gets to me is how smart Hershey is to take advantage of the J-1 program and hire workers for cheap. It’s astounding – these kids are being taken advantage of. Most of these kids won’t recuperate their deposits to get to Pennsylvania to work at Hershey.

I’m reading all the Youtube comments and I see a lot of ignorant people posting about how privileged these children are and telling them how lucky they are to get a job. These students have to work in a factory, ‘oh boo hoo. It’s tough work, I can’t lift 30 pounds, I can’t work that fast oooh, deal with it and get back to work!!!!!’. Now that is a sound argument. At first glance it looks like that these J-1 students are just bitching and complaining about a job they don’t like and in reality, who hasn’t? From what I’m seeing though, a lot of these posters don’t actually see the real problem and legal/ethical issues that Hershey’s is trying to avoid or working their way around.

As I watched the video, I realized…dam, wtf is happening at Hershey’s? There are underlying issues presented in the video that I don’t think some people noticed.

Issue 1
The first student, says he paid $4000 to get to work at Hershey’s. (video – 0:58)
He showed the cameraman his pay check and he says that he is supposed to get $334 for 40 hours of work. That comes out to $334/40 = $8.35 which is higher than Pennsylvania minimum wage which is $7.35 (http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm)
But this guy has his $200 deducted from his check. He gets a net payment of $130.15 (video: 2:15)
If you calculate that, it is: $130.15 * 4 weeks * 3 months = $1561.8
So for 3 months, this guy receives a net payment of around $1500, that’s crazy! He’s $2438.2 in debt.

so yea, the student, when he gets back to his country is in debt after his work experience.
Now people will say, hey he’s getting quite a bit of money, but do Americans get that much deducted from their pay check? I don’t think so. With a mortgage included, possibly. Still, in an American society today standard of living with that salary will not be good.
The thing is though, as an American, you would be excited and happy that you have a job but what happens to the happiness and excitement when you realize that you have to pay the company to work. It sucks that college students now have resorted to taking non-pay internships but when you have to pay the company to work for them, what benefit does that give you? Of course you get the experience but how can you afford to eat when your money that you need to save up for the future is leaving you. It’s a net loss, who would want that? No economy will last for a year under those conditions when EVERYONE has to pay a company to work for them.

I would be pissed off if I had to pay my local McDonald’s restaurant to work there. Wouldn’t you?

Issue 2
This is easily comparable to the child slaves in non industrialized nations like the countries in Asia and Africa. So many people are against children having to work in deplorable conditions and getting paid so little just to support their families but yet you see some people talking shit about these students who are ‘privileged’. Anyway, but when you see child slavery or just slavery in general in AMERICA, is that supposed to be normal? What the hell happened to America? Isn’t it supposed to be the land of the free? Wasn’t slavery abolished like 200 years ago? Yet you still see it today…well it’s not considered ‘slavery’ now ;).

Issue 3
Why isn’t Hershey’s hiring Pennsylvanians?
I see so many people commenting on how the fuck these students got the job and how they are evil by taking away jobs from local folk. The real question they should be asking is, why is Hershey’s outsourcing local factory jobs to foreign students? I don’t think these students actually chose to work in this factory. I’m pretty sure the J-1 program chose it for them but why would Hershey use this program to hire assembly line workers? In the shit economy America has today, they should be hiring the good ole’ American and reduce the unemployment rate. 400 JOBS could be given to local residents and help improve the state’s economy.

BUT NOOO Hershey’s decided to outsource these jobs.

You know because they don’t want to deal with the pay that comes with the higher standard of living and especially they do not want to deal with the evil and wretched UNIONS. I was amazed that there is a Chocolate Workers union, that is so awesome to have a name like that but with union demands comes with paying the factory line workers more and overall, costing the company lots more money.

Issue 4
It seems like the J-1 program was set up by these American companies to solely get cheap labor. Very smart and yet very unethical.
There needs to be an investigation as to what the fuck happens with these students when they apply to this program. This is a VERY good idea, whoever thought of this must have gotten a massive pay raise…a raise that could be used to hire and employ some local folk.

If you look at these issues, you know there is a major problem in the corporate world and it needs to be changed.

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