Hey! U.S. readers: Who wants to be that awful neighbor who hands out pennies on Halloween? The one all the kids hate? You do, you do! Unfortunately. Because here’s the problem: due to some, er, choices made by the Hershey Candy Company, you basically cannot buy or eat candy now without accidentally funding the process of FOOLING PEOPLE INTO INDENTURED SERVITUDE.
“Pleas hellp,” wrote the student, Tudor Ureche. He told them about “the miserable situation in which I’ve found myself cought” since starting a job under the program in a plant packing Hershey’s chocolates near the company’s namesake town in Pennsylvania.
Students like Mr. Ureche, who had paid as much as $6,000 to take part in the program, expected a chance to see the best of this country, to make American friends and sightsee, with a summer job to help finance it all.
Instead, many students who were placed at the packing plant found themselves working grueling night shifts on speeding production lines, repeatedly lifting boxes weighing as much as 60 pounds and financially drained by low pay and unexpected extra costs for housing and transportation. Their complaints to the contractor running the program on behalf of the State Department were met with threats that they could be sent home…
The group, known as Cetusa, placed nearly 400 foreigners from 18 countries, many of them graduate students in medicine, engineering and economics, in physically arduous jobs at the Palmyra factory that were overwhelming for some.
The students, who were earning about $8 an hour, said they were isolated within the plant, rarely finding moments to practice English or socialize with Americans. With little explanation or accounting, the sponsor took steep deductions from their paychecks for housing, transportation and insurance that left many of them too little money to afford the tourist wanderings they had eagerly anticipated.
Program documents and interviews with 15 students show that Cetusa failed to heed many distress signals from students over many months, and responded to some with threats of expulsion from the program.
So: Here are the names you’re looking for, on your wrapper, when you decide not to buy candy. Hershey’s has the right to manufacture and distribute Cadbury-brand products in the US, and has acquired “the Canadian candy and nut operations of Nabisco Brands,” including Breath Savers and Life Savers. It’s also licensed Kit-Kats and Rolos from Nestle. It owns the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut corporation, Scharffen Berger, Joseph Schmidt Confections, and Dagoba Organic Chocolates. Actually look for the brand on the wrapper: It’s not just Hershey Bars and Hershey Kisses that are, um, enslaving people. Aside from the above, it’s all of the following products:
Good & Plenty
Good & Fruity
PayDay (HA HA HA HA HA, no seriously, don’t buy “Pay Day”)
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s Pieces, and the other “Reese’s” products
York Peppermint Pattie
And if I am missing anything, let me know! Blog posts can be amended and corrected! This isn’t the first time Hershey has been boycotted — they’ve also been boycotted on the grounds that they use forced child labor in other countries, too, and some of those are ongoing. But the whole “who wants to come to America to work on their Ph.D.? GREAT, HERE IS YOUR BOX, you will be carrying these, also if you do not want to sleep in the box you will give us money” facet is one I find intriguingly outrage-worthy! So, yes. You will not be buying any candy this Halloween, and you will be giving the children pennies. Or, um, sound advice. About how indentured servitude is wrong, perhaps. Who said social justice wasn’t fun?