There’s a bittersweet battle taking place in Stuarts Draft, Virginia.
Workers at the Hershey Company’s second-largest factory are seeking to unionize. Candy manufacturing giant Candy King is responding by throwing all of its corporate union-busting power at them.
Hershey is now accused of maltreating workers who made this possible. Employees are speaking out It is known for its long hours, strict retaliation, and company surveillance. Some even refer to the factory as the “Hershey Prison.”
Janice Taylor, a woman told The labor outlet More Perfect Union She had to work for 72 consecutive working days. “I was exhausted both physically and mentally,” she said.
Other Stuarts Draft workers leave reviews about their workplaces Indeed.com, reporting that exhausted employees “walk around like zombies.” One says they had to miss their daughter’s graduation because they couldn’t get two hours off. “Most weeks you work seven days and it’s hard to get a day off,” another explains. “Really hard if you have a family.”
“You don’t get to have a life,” warns another. You just “work until you drop.”
Another common complaint is that Hershey created a two-tier system in the factory where younger workers are paid less and receive significantly fewer benefits.
It’s no wonder the Hershey workers in Stuarts Draft voted to hold union elections To become a member of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, or Grain Millers International Union, (BCTGM). Hershey has vocally opposed the effort, holding “captive audience” meetings telling workers to vote against the union and even saying in job listings that Stuarts Draft is a “Non-Union plant.”
The company’s opposition to the union drive is puzzling. Since 1938, workers at Hershey’s original Pennsylvania factory have been unionized under the same union, BCTGM Local 464. Hershey, however, opposes similar rights for Virginia workers.
The company even had a website created. WeAreHersheySD.comThat tells Stuarts Draft employees that the BCTGM — the same union their Pennsylvania colleagues are members of — is not their “friend.” The website also warns about Employees may lose their wages due to strikes
The site doesn’t mention that striking BCTGM employees are at Kellogg’s A new five-year contract has been awarded that will end the two-tiered pay system that Stuarts Draft workers are trying to end.
This Hershey union is part of a growing trend in big-name workers such as Amazon and Starbucks. Unionization is a success vote One Starbucks location in Buffalo, New York has sparked interest. similar efforts There are more than 70 Starbucks shops in 20 states
In February, the Biden administration released a series of guidelines. recommendations “to promote worker organizing and collective bargaining” — a far cry from the blatantly anti-union posture of Biden’s predecessor.
Hershey is known for being a great place to live. just company. It is a private school for children with low incomes in Pennsylvania. Its CEO Michele Buck has boasted Its commitment to sustainability, social accountability, and human rights.
In online talk last year, Buck even said that her company was focused on “the well-being of our employees,” including “their emotional well-being and their economic well-being.”
The company’s union-busting shows that talk is just sugarcoating. But if Hershey’s won’t guarantee dignity, safety, and fairness, maybe its workers will do it for them.