Nancy Cleeland

Nancy Cleeland is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who covered organized labor and low-wage workers for a decade with the Los Angeles Times. She now works with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

Recent Articles

Dark and Bitter

Food workers increasingly exist in a legal limbo with no protections for wages, benefits, job security, or life and limb. Why are employers like Hershey off the hook?

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
On the morning of July 8, a temporary worker in Camden, New Jersey, slipped and fell into an 8-foot-deep vat of liquid chocolate, where he was struck by a large mechanical mixer and killed. His name was Vincent Smith II and he was 29 years old. He'd recently moved to Camden from rural Pennsylvania in search of work and soon learned that the only way into the local warehouses and factories was through a temp agency. The chocolate plant was his first assignment. He'd been on the job two weeks. The batch that Smith was mixing up that day was destined for the Hershey Company, which no longer makes its own chocolate. Since 2002, the iconic brand has gradually outsourced all its production to U.S. contractors and new facilities in Mexico, closing its own factories and eliminating some 3,000 union jobs. The relationship between Vincent Smith and the Hershey Company was at once clear and tenuous. He was, after all, doing the company's work. On the other hand, he was hired by the Heads Up...