STUARTS DRAFT, Va. (WHSV) – A group of Hershey employees in Augusta County are trying to organize.
The group consists of employees and some former employees. They said they wanted to unionize for better working conditions.
“They have changed so drastically in the last 14 years. I loved working there when I first went there. I loved it. People were great, management was great. They really cared about it,” said Janice Taylor, a former Hershey employee.
Taylor worked for Hershey’s for 14 years and was fired 20 days ago. She said on Jan. 12 she took a break that was 14 minutes too long. On January 31, she was suspended over the incident.
On February 8, she was fired.
“I’m without insurance, medical insurance. My husband is without the same. Of course, no payment comes in. It’s difficult,” Taylor said.
The job didn’t offer much downtime, Taylor said.
“They give us three sick days. But if you use those sick days, you get a point. This point is against your attendance policy. When you reach a certain number of points, you get credit,” Taylor said.
One employee who was uncomfortable giving his name or voice said he often worked seven days a week and worked many weeks at a time without a day off. They get paid overtime on days six and seven, but they said it’s sometimes difficult to get permission to take a day off.
Taylor and a group of employees are seeking representation through the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union. Taylor said she has personal experience as a union member.
“I worked for my previous employer there for 23 years. We were a union body. The benefits of a union are just phenomenal,” she said.
Employees have the opportunity to vote by post whether the plant joins the union. The ballots went out on Thursday, February 24.
Hershey said in a statement: “While we respect the right of our team members to make an informed decision about whether they would like to be represented by a third party such as a union, we believe the insertion of a union would be counterproductive and undermine the open and collaborative.” Environment that has allowed the Stuarts Draft facility to thrive for 40 years.”
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