Joint Appeal to Hershey Re: Child Labor, HIV Discrimination and Guestworker Abuse
June 12, 2012
John P. Bilbrey
Chief Executive Officer
The Hershey Company
100 Crystal A Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
Dear Mr. Bilbrey and Esteemed Hershey Trustees,
Today children’s advocates across the globe are coming together to support World Day Against Child Labor, a cause that Milton Hershey, given his commitment to children, would have strongly supported.
We write to ask that, as the guardians of Milton Hershey’s legacy, you contact us to schedule a meeting with the undersigned stakeholders and take action to end a range of appalling practices affecting children and students at both the Hershey School and the Hershey family of companies, including the worst forms of child labor.
Recently, The Hershey Trust Company, the Milton Hershey School and the Hershey family of companies have come under increasing criticism over the school’s rejection of a 13-year-old boy due to the teen’s HIV-positive status, for refusing to change corporate policies that resulted in the exploitation of exchange students at a Hershey chocolate packaging plant, and for failing to keep pace with competitors’ efforts to end forced child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa.
Based on your apparent unwillingness to address these issues in a meaningful fashion or engage with concerned civil society groups, it appears that Mr. Hershey’s revered legacy of caring for children, workers and the community has been replaced by callous indifference, corporate greed, and a blatant refusal to take responsibility for actions that are harming children, students and workers in the United States and around the world.
We firmly believe that human rights, including HIV discrimination, guest worker abuses, and the exploitation of children, are fundamental concerns that cannot be ignored and indeed by doing so, risks long-term shareholder value and Hershey’s public reputation. We thank you for your attention to these important matters and look forward to discussing them with you.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
International Labor Rights Forum
National Guestworkers Alliance
CC: Robert F. Cavanaugh
Robert C. Heist
James M. Mead
James E. Nevels
Velma A. Redmond
Joseph M. Senser
Lieutenant General Richard C. Zimler, USMC (Ret.)