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August 22, 2011
Kissed-Off By Hershey
The iconic Hershey Co. has a contractor that operates a Hershey warehouse — Central Distribution Center III — that it's staffed with foreign students who are unhappy with their working conditions and have been demonstrating to make their point. They're minimally paid and work so hard that they don't have the ability to experience American culture beyond the warehouse and their rooms. And they spent thousands of their own money for the experience.

Hershey's posture on this? "We don't staff the warehouse, Exel, our Ohio-based contractor does." That, you might gather, is a horrible stance, especially when Exel has announced that it will no longer employ foreign student workers through the J-1 visa program.

Companies that seek to distance themselves from their contractors aren't exactly spreading kisses around. What they're doing is practicing the worst kind of PR, and Hershey has been caught at it. Other companies with employment contractors need to take note.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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