Here's a really scary story for your Halloween: The candy you're handing out might have been made by foreign students who were tricked into factory labor. Hershey's, which also distributes Cadbury candy in the U.S. and Nabisco candy in Canada, charged students up to $6,000 for a "summer work and travel" program, which actually consisted of drudgery at the packing plant.
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.
What the students describe is basically old-school indentured servitude. Even though they'd already paid for the program, students had housing and transportation costs deducted from their barely-above-minimum wages. They also say that they were isolated in the plant and often expected to do demanding manual labor. And the State Department contractor administering their work/travel program, Council for Educational Travel, USA or Cetusa, reportedly ignored their pleas for help.
If you haven't already switched to Fair Trade chocolate, maybe this is a good year to do it.
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