DOL cites, fines Hershey’s subcontractors for labor violations

On Feb. 21, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited and penalized Hershey’s subcontractors Exel and SHS for violations of federal safety and health law at the Hershey’s chocolate packing plant in Palmyra, PA.

The OSHA investigation began after hundreds of student guestworkers went on strike from the plant in August 2011 to expose brutal conditions, sub-minimum wage pay, and threats and retaliation by supervisors and labor recruiters.

The below statement is by Jennifer J. Rosenbaum, Legal Director, National Guestworker Alliance:

“These findings vindicate the claims by our members that Hershey’s subcontractors Exel and SHS ignored and repressed complaints about serious health and safety violations.

“OSHA found that in effect, Exel had no health and safety regime at the Hershey’s plant that would allow someone to perform these jobs safely over a long period of time. OSHA found that Exel concealed repeated health and safety violations over a period of many years.

“This is a case study of the way a major corporation uses a subcontracting giant to kill decent U.S. jobs. Exel stepped in to facilitate the demise of safe, stable, living-wage American jobs through corporate subcontracting to hide labor abuses.

“Corporations try to avoid responsibility for labor abuses by hiding behind chains of subcontractors, and by hiring guestworkers who are vulnerable to threats of retaliation. This time, it didn’t work: the student guestworkers took the risk to organize and bring these abuses to light, and the Department of Labor held Exel and SHS accountable.”

CONTACT: Stephen Boykewich, NGA Communications Director, 718-791-9162

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