Seems as if some job creators in the hinterlands of Pennsyltucky are incapable of learning from others mistakes. Earlier today, student guest workers staged a surprise strike to expose what they claim is severe exploitation at McDonald’s restaurants in Harrisburg, Lemoyne and Camp Hill. The whole situation is awfully reminiscent of a similar walkout at a Hershey packaging facility in Palmyra, PA back in August 2011. Foreign students there were forced to work long hours, paid below minimum wage standards, and routinely threatened with deportation. Guest workers involved in today’s protest, many of whom paid thousands of dollars to take part in what they believed was going to be a work and cultural exchange program, claim they too were paid less than minimum wage for lengthy, sometimes 25-hours straight, shifts, and faced threats of pay cuts when they complained.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, National Guestworker Alliance, the group that organized the work-stoppage protest, also claims that guest workers were forced to pay $300 a month to live in squalid, employer-owned basement apartments that were crowded with as many as eight students per unit. On the job, they were mocked and humiliated, and forced to re-label expired salads as fresh and keep unsold burgers that should have been tossed out after 30 minutes. Complaints about pay, working and living conditions were met with threats of cut hours and wages via surprise home visits from the employer and McDonald’s labor recruiters. Needless to say, the guest workers are not lovin’ it.