WOOT! Hershey is Our First Ever Corporate Recipient of The Environmental Booty FAIL Award!

WOOT!  Hershey is Our First Ever Corporate Recipient of The Environmental Booty FAIL Award!

Hundreds of foreign student guest workers leave work to join a protest outside the Hershey's Co. warehouse, August 17, in Palmyra, Pa. (AP/The Patriot-News, John C. Whitehead)
If you  heard about the foreign student guest workers walking out of the Excel Hershey vendor plant in Pennsylvania last week, you like me, might be wondering what Hershey's official response to the situation is.  I grew up on Hershey and until recently, when I found out about their African child labor connection, it was one of my most beloved brands.

Well, I called Hershey to find out why they are associated with a vendor that would treat workers unfairly and I must say the conversation got a little heated on my end.  Dave, the Hershey representative I spoke with, started by telling me that "the article" out there is not correct.  He went on to say that it is not a Hershey plant that is employing the foreign student workers who are being treated unfairly, it is a Hershey vendor called Excel, which is involved with the J-1 visa program with the State Department.  Seriously, denying association is still their first line of defense even after yesterday?

Tuesday,  OSHA made a surprise inspection of the Hershey’s packing plant in Palmyra.  The inspection continued all day yesterday and was set to resume this morning and according to GuestWorkersAlliance.org, OSHA also confirmed Tuesday that it had opened a Whistleblower Protection Program investigation into the case.  The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has launched its own investigation into the exploitation of J-1 student workers at the Hershey’s plant, and the U.S. State Department scheduled interviews with the students for Thursday, August 25, as part of its own investigation.

Take a look and get yourself fully entrenched in the details and tell me if you are confused about Hershey's involvement in treating foreign student guest workers so unfairly that they felt they had to strike...

Are you a little fired up after seeing that?  You should have heard me on the phone with Dave.  I was a bit riled up myself.  I felt a teeny tiny bit better though when Dave told me that Hershey is taking the matter very seriously and after speaking with Excel, they have been informed that after the current contract with the exchange program is up, Excel will no longer be employing foreign students.  When I asked when the contract would run out, I think Dave got a little exasperated and told me he did not know.  I mean my thinking is why not force Excel to pay a fair wage and provide a Hershey representative to assist the students with their needs until the contract runs out? 

Well maybe Hershey thinks it is fine to continue working with a company that treats workers unfairly in the USA because they have done a good job of insuring fair treatment of workers in Africa.  As Dave, my friendly Herhsey rep told me, they are very big and need a lot of cocoa.  In fact, Dave said they need so much cocoa that they must buy it on the open market and therefore they have no idea where it really comes from.  Poor Hershey.  They are soooo big that they just cannot figure out how to stop associating themselves with African child labor.  But never fear, my Hershey rep Dave told me that they have spent $38 million dollars on educating the African cocoa growers on how to treat their workers fairly.  So I guess now the African cocoa farmers are finally treating their child workers fairly!!! Yeah!!!  I feel so much better now about buying Hershey.  Don't you?

Congratulations Hershey...YOU FAIL!  Consumers cannot currently trust you to be a responsible corporate partner in finding the treasure in self, people and planet.  Get your act together.  Hershey is supposed to be one of those American icons like baseball, apple pie and lemonade.  Stop letting us down. 
P.S.- I am really glad that you stopped by our Environmental Booty Blog and I hope you have learned or shared a thing or two. I hope that , now that you've found us, you won't lose us! You can "Like" us on our new Facebook fanpage, join our green living online community, subscribe to our posts, download our community toolbar or Tweet with me on Twitter to stay in touch! - Shane*

Sources: People's World National Guestworker Alliance
Photo Credit: AP/The Patriot-News, John C. Whitehead

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