A student from Argentina said he was “exploited” by a work-study program at a McDonald’s franchise in Pennsylvania.
Jorge Rios, 27, came to the United States in December 2012. As part
of a J-1 summer work travel program with a student work visa from the
U.S. State Department, Rios said he was not paid overtime and had to be
on call at all times of the day as an employee at a McDonald’s near
He and about 17 other foreign students say they paid around $3,000 to $4,000 for visa costs, plane tickets and other expenses.
The State Department does not charge fees for people to participate
in the summer work travel program, which requires jobs to be seasonal or
temporary. Instead, private companies charge fees to help bring
students to the U.S. as in this case.
In the U.S. last summer, there were 73,808 people who participated in
the summer work travel program, which has the goal of providing an
American cultural experience to foreign students.
During the winter months, there were 8,215 program participants like
Rios. In this cycle, the State
Department conducted 226 site visits in
24 states so far.
Rios started a petition
in partnership with the National Guestworker Alliance, asking Don
Thompson, McDonald’s Corporation’s president and CEO, for overtime pay
and to sign an agreement with the alliance to guarantee “basic labor
standards” for guest workers like him.
Rios and 14 other visiting workers have staged protests at McDonald’s
in Pennsylvania and plan to stage a protest in New York City this week.
The scheduled hours for the workers varied widely from week to week,
from a few hours to 45 or 60 hours a week without overtime, they said.
“We expected to have 40 hours of work a week, but we were given as
little as four hours a week at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour,” Rios
said in the petition. “The employer knew we were desperate for more
hours, and he kept us on call to come in with 30 minutes’ notice all day
and night. I didn’t even have time to visit the public library.”
The franchise owner did not return a request for comment.“
As many as eight of us lived in a single basement. We slept on bunk
beds made for children that shook and squeaked. We had no privacy
whatsoever,” he said.
I have no problem with Mr. Rios, he did what most of us do, try to better himself through hard work and schooling.
I have a problem with OUR State Department running a program that literally takes jobs from Americans and presents them to non-citizens! I'll even go so far as to say that I understand the McDonald's owner, he's a greedy, underhanded, slave driving, thug, who should be arrested and sent before a judge. This kind of crap can't be allowed among law abiding citizens.
But why, when 20% to 30% of teens and college students can't find a JOB, are they working at giving away 75K jobs, to foreigners?! I know it's stupid of me to 'think' about such things, but why didn't someone slide a line or two into this plan, that would put it on hold, when OUR unemployment rate goes over 7% or 9% or some preset amount?
It's just one more instance of our elected worms being so shortsighted that they think TODAY is the status quo. It was most likely written when jobs were falling off trees with no one to fill them. But, even small children know it's going to rain again, someday.