The following statement is by Saket Soni, Executive Director of the National Guestworker Alliance:
“This summer, 300 J-1 student workers from around the world went on strike to expose exploitation at the Hershey’s packing plant in Palmyra, PA. Their courage forced the State Department to take a closer look at the way that greedy corporations like Hershey’s have abused the J-1 visa program to destroy living wage jobs and maximize profits at any cost.
“On the State Department’s watch, the J-1 program has become the largest unregulated guestworker program in America. We are glad Secretary Clinton has taken notice of this. The deception, exploitation, and threats that the Hershey’s J-1 student workers faced aren’t the exception in the J-1 program; they’re the rule.
“Now, we need more than a review—we need action. If the State Department is serious about fixing the problems in the J-1 program, it needs to shut down the sponsoring organizations that have deceived, exploited, and threatened J-1 student workers, starting with Hershey’s labor recruiter CETUSA.
“We call on Secretary Clinton to immediately suspend and revoke CETUSA’s right to issue additional J-1 cultural exchange visas. It should do the same with every J-1 sponsoring organization that has abused this program as a source of cheap, exploitable labor. It should also it should hold the companies accountable that have profited from the exploitation of J-1 student workers while destroying living wage jobs.”