Week 2: Labor justice monitoring, kitchen table tour, open letter to Hershey’s CEO

HERSHEY, PA—As the Hershey’s J-1 student workers began the second week of their fight to end Hershey’s exploitation of student workers and to win living wage jobs for local workers, the students hold a press event at 10:30am on Monday, August 22, to announce two new steps in their campaign:

·       The return of one group of students to the factory as full-time, on-site Labor Justice Monitors, to end the regime of threats from supervisors, verbal abuse, and forced work to the point of physical breakdown that the students faced;

·       The launch by the remaining students of the Justice at Hershey’s Kitchen Table Tour: a series of conversations between the students and ordinary Pennsylvanians around the state about how corporate greed has affected them both, and how they can join together in a common fight for dignity, rights, and respect at work.

In addition, in response to the lack of any direct response from any representative of Hershey’s to the students since the launch of the strike, the students released a direct video appeal to Hershey’s CEO John Bilbrey (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1WaubnAR2o).

The on-site Labor Justice Monitors will identify themselves to plant supervisors and other workers with arm-bands and badges. On every shift, they will carry charts to record any incident of threats from supervisors, injuries, verbal abuse, or retaliation for organizing. Any such incidents will be immediately publicized online and to local media.

If these Labor Justice Monitors face any discrimination in being able to enter the plant, or discrimination or threats once inside, we will take immediate public action.

The Justice at Hershey’s Kitchen Table tour will respond to the extraordinary upwelling of support for the students by ordinary Pennsylvanians since the students launched their strike last Wednesday. Pennsylvanians have invited the students into their homes, offered them donations of meals and produce, contributed to the students’ strike fund, and written and called Hershey’s by the thousands to demand that the company end the exploitation of J-1 student workers at its packing plant.

The Kitchen Table tour will also respond to the connections that students have formed with unemployed and anxiously employed Pennsylvanians, and their common understanding that they both have suffered from corporate greed. The endless search of companies like Hershey’s for the cheapest, most exploitable labor has left Pennsylvania’s families out in the cold while turning students who came to the U.S. for a cultural exchange into captive laborers instead. In intimate kitchen-table conversations, they will share their stories and find sources of hope in their connections.

The dates and locations of the Kitchen Table Tour’s opening days will be released this Wednesday.

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. ET, August 22, 2011

WHERE: The Hershey Story, 63 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA 17033

WHAT: Hershey’s J-1 student workers, local PA allies

CONTACTS: NGA Communications Director Stephen Boykewich

Stephen@guestworkeralliance.org, Mob. 718-791-9162

Mitchell Troutman, mitchell.troutman@gmail.com, Mob. 215-620-0970



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