Yesterday, meeting behind locked doors, rows of metal barriers, and armed guards, Hershey’s shareholders heard that the chocolate giant had made more than $1 billion in profits globally in 2011.
They also learned from the 99% that Hershey’s has gone from an iconic American brand to an icon of corporate greed.
More than 100 Pennsylvanians marched on Hershey’s shareholder meeting under the banner of the 99% Power coalition—ordinary people who have united to build an economy and a democracy that works for all of us, not just for the 1%. All around the country this spring, members of the 99% are challenging 1% board members and executives who have expanded inequality, threatened democracy, destroyed our environment, and put profit ahead of the survival of families and communities.
Pennsylvanians from the 99% entered the Hershey’s shareholder meeting and held management’s feet to the fire for destroying hundreds of permanent, living-wage jobs and subcontracting to replace them with temporary, sub-minimum wage jobs for exploitable guestworkers. They challenged Hershey’s use of child labor in Africa, and illegal discrimination by the Milton Hershey School against a 13-year-old HIV-positive boy.
Outside, joined by labor, civil, and human rights leaders from NGA, SEIU Healthcare PA, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Pennsylvanians marched and delivered powerful testimonies about their fight against the depths of Hershey’s greed.
Our demands to Hershey’s:
- create dignified, living wage jobs for local workers;
- sign the NGA’s Worker Dignity Protocols to end exploitation of guestworkers; and
- pledge an immediate end to discriminatory practices and abuses that affect children at both the Hershey School and the Hershey family of companies.
Local public radio interviewed Mitch Troutman, an NGA organizer and lifelong Central Pennsylvanian who’s holding down three jobs to make ends meet:
“Last year, this company brought 400 workers here to pay them next to nothing so they didn’t have to pay local workers. We don’t want that to happen again, and we’re here to say we’re not going away, we’re going to be watching you.”
Thank you for all you’ve contributed to this fight!