Posts Tagged ‘h2b’

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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Investigative Commission, Mexican gov’t meet over Walmart

This month, the National Investigative Commission into forced labor on Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain traveled to Mexico to meet with workers, Mexican government officials, and Mexican human, civil, and labor rights groups.

Below is a statement released by the Commission on October 30, 2012:

In our work as civil, human, and labor rights advocates before forming this Commission, we had long been aware of a wide range of labor abuses by Wal-Mart, from wage theft and the locking of store workers into stores, to overt and systematic sexual discrimination in hiring and promotion. In recent days, hundreds of Wal-Mart store workers have gone on strike across America, protesting the company’s retaliation against workers who organized for basic dignity. We stand in solidarity with those workers.

We formed this Commission in June 2012, following the exposure of forced labor at Wal-Mart supplier C.J.’s Seafood. The case of C.J.’s revealed that severe labor abuses extended beyond Wal-Mart stores, to Wal-Mart’s 60,000 suppliers. Wal-Mart did nothing to protect the rights of workers at C.J.’s, despite long-standing public assurances that it is policing its supply chain. And a preliminary investigation by the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) revealed that it was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of forced labor Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain.

This month, members of this commission traveled to Mexico City to seek the help of a variety of partners: representatives of the Mexican government, former Wal-Mart supply chain workers, and Mexican human, civil, and labor rights groups.

A worker named Manuela traveled from Sinaloa to meet with the commission. She’d worked as a guestworker in Louisiana for sub-minimum wage pay. When she and other workers organized, their boss threatened to call immigration authorities, then blacklisted the workers so they couldn’t get jobs at other plants.

The Mexican advocates we met with were stunned by the workers’ stories—and by their bravery in organizing in the face of retaliation. The many Mexican journalists who covered our visit for national and international outlets were as well.

We also met with Emb. Roberto Rodríguez Hernández, Director General of the Mexican Ministry of the Exterior, who committed to assembling a meeting with workers, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labor, and this Commission to address the Mexican government’s obligation to monitor forced labor among Mexican guestworkers on Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain.

We thank the Ministry for its serious and constructive commitment to working with this commission to protect Mexican nationals from forced labor on Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain. We intend to hold it to this task.

We believe our visit contributed to the growing momentum on both sides of the border—from the halls of Mexican parliament to Gulf Coast labor camps to Wal-Mart stores where workers are on strike—to hold the world’s largest private employer accountable for labor abuse.

Worker leader Olivia Guzman, who joined our meeting with the Ministry, said:

“We are beginning something big. Just weeks ago, other Mexican guestworkers filed suit against another Louisiana Wal-Mart supplier called Riceland Crawfish. I worked there in 2008, and even after working 11-hour days, we often weren’t paid enough even to buy food. After so many years, people are tired of the abuse. We are standing up and defending our rights.”

On behalf of the National Investigative Commission into Forced Labor on Wal-Mart’s U.S. Supply Chain:

  • Alejandra Ancheita – Director, Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC)
  • Patrick O’Neill – Executive Vice-President, United Food and Commercial Workers
  • Scott Nova – Director, Worker Rights Consortium
  • Terry O’Neill – President, National Organization for Women
  • Saket Soni – Director, National Guestworker Alliance


How Guestworkers Fueled a National Movement Against Wal-Mart – YES! – 10-11-12

Meet the Crawfish-Peeling Guestworkers Who Inspired Walmart Walkouts

YES! Magazine

How a few courageous workers in small-town Louisiana sparked nationwide actions demanding better wages and working conditions for those who pick, pack, stock, and sell the mega-retailer’s products.

By Cecilia Garza
Oct 11, 2012

Guestworkers at Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood, where they were forced to work up to 24-hour shifts with no overtime pay and locked into the plant to prevent them from taking breaks. Photo courtesy of the National Guestworker Alliance.

In the small town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Martha Uvalle and her co-workers at C.J.’s Seafood, a Walmart supplier, faced abuses many Americans imagine only take place in poorer, faraway countries: They were forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours, with no overtime pay; threatened with beatings if their breaks lasted too long; and, on at least two occasions, locked inside the facility to work. Some fell asleep at their workstations from exhaustion.

Uvalle had heard that there were organizations that defended the rights of immigrant workers like her. In 2011, someone had mentioned a group called the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA). But, for a year, she held on to the number and didn’t call. Change seemed impossible.

So when Uvalle gave the NGA’s number to her feisty co-worker, Ana Rosa Diaz, it was an act of tremendous courage. Diaz then actually called the NGA to report the working conditions at C.J.’s.

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Victory at Wal-Mart!

Bad news for the world’s biggest employer: even as hundreds of Wal-Mart store workers have been on strike against the retail giant for the first time in history, the C.J.’s Seafood workers who exposed forced labor on the Wal-Mart supply chain this summer have won a huge new victory.

The federal government just vindicated the C.J.’s workers by granting them special visas for victims of serious crimes. Now, armed with protections against deportation, the C.J.’s workers are entering labor camps across the Louisiana coast, organizing hundreds of other Wal-Mart supply chain workers to stop forced labor at their own workplaces.

Maria is one of them. She’s 38, a mother, and a guestworker who peels shrimp for a Wal-Mart supplier in Louisiana.

Under constant pressure to work faster, Maria has severe back pain and tendonitis. Last month when she asked to leave work early for a doctor’s appointment, her manager grabbed her and shook her so violently that it left dark bruises on her arms and shoulder.

Maria was terrified. But then she met with Ana Rosa Diaz and other C.J.’s workers. She joined the NGA’s Supply Chain Organizing Committee.

And she confronted her boss and demanded he stop the abuse.

“I’m not alone,” Maria said, “and that’s what makes us strong.”

Your contribution of $25, $50, $100 will help support hundreds more workers on the Wal-Mart supply chain fight for their dignity.

The Supply Chain Organizing Committee has already reached hundreds of workers like Maria. But there are 60,000 Wal-Mart suppliers in the U.S.—and Wal-Mart refuses even to reveal which of them employ guestworkers. The workers need your support.

Help us end forced labor on the Wal-Mart supply chain. Please donate today!

Donate now!

Your donation will support workers' fight to end forced labor, wage theft, and exploitation -- for guestworkers and U.S. workers alike!


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