Posts Tagged ‘DOL’

Student Workers at Hershey Facility Win Back Wages – AP – 11/14/12

Student Workers at Hershey Facility Win Back Wages

By Peter Jackson, Associated Press

November 14, 2012

Three companies have agreed in a settlement to pay more than $213,000 in back wages to hundreds of foreign students for summer jobs they held at a Hershey candy company facility, the U.S. Department of Labor said Wednesday.

The settlement also requires two of the companies to pay fines totaling $148,000.

The Hershey Co., whose sweet treats include Kit Kat and Reese’s peanut butter cups, owns the warehouse and distribution center but was not cited for violations because it contracts out the operation of it to another company, Exel Inc., Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman said.

Westerville, Ohio-based Exel, Lemoyne-based SHS Group and the San Clemente, Calif.-based Council for Educational Travel USA agreed to pay $213,042 in back wages to 1,028 foreign students who held summer jobs repackaging candy for promotional displays. The payout is an average of $207 per student.

The three companies overcharged the students for housing, reducing their wages below what they were supposed to be paid, the department said.

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NGA Wins New Protections for Wal-Mart, Hershey’s Supply Chain Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 14, 2012—As the latest victory in a year-long fight by the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) against supply chain labor abuse, warehouse operator Exel Logistics agreed with the Department of Labor (DOL) on Wednesday to new worker protections for Exel’s more than 300 U.S. warehouses.

Exel, which has $4.1 billion in annual revenue, operates warehouses for major U.S. retailers including Wal-Mart and Hershey’s. Wal-Mart is facing growing pressure and nationwide strikes over supply chain labor abuses as Black Friday approaches.

The DOL agreement came in response to a strike and legal complaints by the NGA over serious labor abuses in a Hershey’s Chocolate packing plant in summer 2011. In previous response to the NGA complaints, the U.S. State Department debarred Hershey’s labor recruiter CETUSA from the J-1 Summer Work Travel program, and overhauled J-1 program rules to add substantial protections for student guestworkers.

The new DOL agreement requires Exel, staffing agency SHS, and labor recruiter CETUSA to pay back $213,000 in illegal deductions from wages to student guestworkers who worked in the Hershey’s plant. It also requires Exel to pay $143,000 in fines for health and safety violations.

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From U.S. Corporations, a Chain of Exploitation – People’s Daily – 8-23-12

The NGA published a commentary on corporate abuse of guestworker programs in the English-language and Chinese-language editions of China’s People’s Daily.

From U.S. Corporations, A Chain of Exploitation

By Jennifer J. Rosenbaum and Julie Mao

August 21, 2012

(Chinese-language version below)

Every year, thousands of students from China come to the United States to take part in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 Summer Work Travel Program, along with tens of thousands of other students from around the world. These student guestworkers are promised a cultural exchange: the chance to meet Americans, practice their English, and experience American culture. Instead, many of them have become low-wage laborers for U.S. corporations.

How has this been possible? Because U.S. corporations have grown so powerful—and so unaccountable—that they were able to turn a cultural exchange program into a source of cheap, exploitable labor. And when human rights abuses like these are exposed, the corporations shift blame down their supply chains, hiding behind layers of suppliers and subcontractors.

A case in point is the Hershey’s Chocolate Company. Last summer, 400 university students from China, Mongolia, Thailand, Ukraine, and other countries paid $3,000-6,000 to take part in the J-1 Summer Work Travel program in Hershey, Pennsylvania. When they arrived in the United States, the students found themselves packing chocolates for Hershey’s under brutal conditions. They performed backbreaking work in round-the-clock shifts for as little as $1 an hour after deductions. They were offered no cultural exchange of any kind. When they raised concerns, supervisors responded with threats of firing and deportation.

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Victory over Walmart and forced labor!

Walmart is one of the most powerful businesses on the planet. The Walton family is wealthier than the bottom 42% of U.S. families combined. The Walmart empire is the biggest employer in America—and the world.

But thanks to you, Walmart can no longer hide how it profits from forced labor.

When eight brave guestworkers joined the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) and exposed forced labor at Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood last month, Walmart tried to cover it up. But you wouldn’t let them. Nearly 150,000 of you signed the workers’ petition. And thanks to your support:

Ana Rosa Diaz, the NGA guestworker member who started the petition, said:

When I decided to go on strike to stop C.J.’s from holding us in forced labor, I never imagined that almost 150,000 Americans would join our cause. Now I know that with your support, we can make a change at Walmart that will improve the lives of thousands and thousands of workers.  

What’s next?

The C.J.’s workers are now meeting with other workers on the Walmart supply chain to expose other cases of forced labor by Walmart suppliers—and to end it.

This Labor Day, Sep. 3, we’re planning a nationwide action that will let ordinary people around the country will help do what Walmart refuses to: reveal the guestworkers on its supply chain.

You can help!

Sign up here to learn how you can help end forced labor on Walmart’s supply chain this Labor Day!

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DOL slams Walmart supplier for $248,000 after forced labor exposé

Dep’t of Labor slams Walmart supplier for $248,000 in penalties, fines, back wages after forced labor exposé

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24, 2012—Today, the Department of Labor (DOL) cited Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood for serious and willful violations of federal labor law, demanding over $248,000 in back wages, fines, and penalties. The citations reinforced guestworkers’ reports of forced labor by the Walmart supplier, which Walmart attempted to cover up.

The DOL fined C.J.’s $34,300 for 11 serious health and safety violations; demanded $146,622 in back wages and liquidated damages; and imposed $32,120 in civil money penalties for willful violations of the employer’s obligations, as well as $35,000 in penalties for willful violations of the H-2B program and the obligation to pay overtime.

The DOL investigation began after guestworker members of the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) went on strike from C.J.’s Seafood and filed official complaints with the DOL on June 6.

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