By JULIA PRESTON
PALMYRA, Pa. — Hundreds of foreign students, waving their fists and shouting defiantly in many languages, walked off their jobs on Wednesday at a plant here that packs Hershey’s chocolates, saying a summer program that was supposed to be a cultural exchange had instead turned them into underpaid labor.
The students, from countries including China, Nigeria, Romania and Ukraine, came to the United States through a long-established State Department summer visa program that allows them to work for two months and then travel. They said they were expecting to practice their English, make some money and learn what life is like in the United States.
In a way, they did. About 400 foreign students were put to work lifting heavy boxes and packing Reese’s candies, Kit-Kats and Almond Joys on a fast-moving production line, many of them on a night shift. After paycheck deductions for fees associated with the program and for their rent, students said at a rally in front of the huge packing plant that many of them were not earning nearly enough to recover what they had spent in their home countries to obtain their visas. ...
Like many other students, Ms. Ozer said she invested about $3,500, which included the program costs, to obtain the J-1 visa and travel to the United States. Several Chinese students, including Ms. Zhao, said they had paid more than $6,000 in the process of securing visas. ...
Ms. Ozer and other students said they were paid $8.35 an hour. After fees are deducted from her paychecks as well as $400 a month for rent, she said, she often takes home less than $200 a week. “We are supposed to be here for cultural exchange and education, but we are just cheap laborers,” Ms. Ozer said.
Welcome to the new, improved USA, 21st Century Edition! Didn't you get the word that America's traditionally high wages and low housing costs were what made America weak for all those centuries? The future belongs to the country with the cheapest labor and the most expensive land.
Seriously, isn't it weird how the entire concept of putting cheap foreign labor programs like this on hiatus until the unemployment rate among Americans drops just never even occurs to anyone in positions of power or influence? To question the continuance of this program during an economic slump would be to question Diversity, and Diversity is unquestionable. Also, it would be bad for corporate profits. So, what are you, some kind of racist communist?