More than 1,000 Hershey’s workers are voting for a plan to merge the plant in Virginia US News

About 1,300 workers at Hershey’s Candy Factory in Stuarts Draft, Virginia voting As to whether to unite in a union, organizers say they are managing older workers who seek to provide good benefits for new employees.

Ballot papers by mail for joining the International Union of Bakers, Confectioners, Tobacco and Growers will be sent to workers on February 24, and the results will be counted on March 24.

Hershey publicly opposes these efforts, encouraging workers to vote against and hiring The Institute for Labor Relations, which destroys trade unions, holds meetings with workers. LRI also created anti-union site on the eve of the election, and as reported made lawn signs “no unions” for distribution throughout the community. Working on two out of seven Hershey plants in the US are currently represented by unions.

Working at the station Virginia the plant, which was asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said the union began in September. The worker said employees suffer from a lack of respect and dignity at work, grueling schedules and working conditions, and a two-tier system in which young and new workers are paid less than previous groups of employees.

Trade union rallies are led by workers who are approaching retirement, who are approaching retirement, who are trying to ensure that incoming workers receive the same pay, benefits and working conditions that they received when they started.

“If you work seven days a week and don’t know when you have a day off, you just live to go to work,” the worker said. “We’re not the happy place to work that you think will now be a chocolate factory.”

The worker described a strict system of disciplinary visits, which reprimands employees for counting sick days or leaving in shifts due to emergency medical care. The company then requires mandatory drug counseling and testing if employees accumulate too much absenteeism.

The worker also criticized practices that kept employees on lower pay scales by restricting access to training programs, and changes that reduced workers ’eligibility for bonuses on weekends.

“It’s a broken system of training, visiting, and then our administration just does not listen to people and their concerns,” – said the worker. “They don’t care about us. They look at us like robots. ”

Spokeswoman Hershey responded to complaints about union membership and working conditions, saying the company “is proud to have created a culture that gives our team members the opportunity to speak openly and directly with management and ultimately foster change in the organization. ».

They added: “While we respect the right of our team members to make an informed decision about whether they want to be represented by a third party as a union, we believe creating a union would be counterproductive and would undermine an open and collaborative environment. for almost 40 years ”.

The Hershey worker stressed the fear of retaliation for the union activities they and other workers faced during the union rally when they were forced to attend meetings held by anti-union counselors.

“I come in every day, waiting to be fired. This is what I have been carrying with me for many months, ”the worker added. “I just feel offended by being forced into these meetings, and I listen to what I call propaganda. I never dreamed that I would feel something as negative in my life as being forced to go to these meetings. “

BCTGM criticizes Hershey’s behavior throughout the campaign, including departure of the longtime director of the plant. Hershey says he retired due to a planned retirement.

“They gave the impression of being monitored with union activities, and they went out and hired a very well-known anti-union law firm, consultants to the Institute of Labor Relations,” said John Price, director of the International Union BCTGM. “They are walking around demanding workers’ complaints, bearing in mind that they can fix them without a union, and they are forcing workers by superficially correcting some of these problems.”

Price explained that some workers had confused hired LRI consultants with the National Labor Council, and that workers were being questioned about union activities conducted in a private Facebook group for workers interested in the union. He expressed his intention to apply several allegations of unfair work practices with NLRB.

A second Hershey worker, who also asked to remain anonymous, said Hershey workers were motivated to join unions after their breaks were cut and their pay for overtime.

“They think of us as machines that just run seven days a week,” the worker said. “They can invest more money to have more capacity, so we don’t need to do that all the time. This is the biggest problem for most people, they would like to live and see their family. ”

The worker also criticized Hershey’s move to reward growing profits during the pandemic with T-shirts instead of higher wages.

In 2020, Hershey reported revenue of nearly $ 8.15 billion compared to $ 7.99 billion in 2019 and revenue of about $ 1.28 billion in 2020 compared to $ 1.15 billion in 2019. In 2021, Hershey seen record year of production and more than $ 1.47 billion in profits.

“Such things are very difficult for people to know that we get all this profit, and here’s a T-shirt,” – added the worker. “I would like to receive more compensation for the profits made.”

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