Blank Rome Government Relations last week notified Congress it is lobbying on behalf of one of the oldest and largest U.S. candy makers.
The firm is advocating for The Hershey Co. on "[g]overnment affairs issues related to labor practices," according to a lobbying registration filing. Blank Rome principal Ashley Davis and analyst Abigail Goldstein are handling the account.
Davis and a Hershey representative didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Goldstein declined to comment.
The confectionary producer has come under fire for wages at a Palmyra, Pa., plant managed by an outside company that packs Hershey candies. Hundreds of foreign students on Aug. 17 walked off their jobs at the facility, claiming they were underpaid. The protesters took the jobs at the plant as part of an exchange program that brings university students to the United States to work and learn about American culture.
Hershey also has faced criticism related to labor practices that exist in West African countries that supply cocoa used by the company. Green America, a nonprofit consumer organization, wrote in a 2010 report that Hershey “has no policies in place to purchase cocoa that has been produced without the use of labor exploitation, and the company has consistently refused to provide public information about its cocoa sources.”
The candy maker spent $305,000 on its federal lobbying during the first half of this year, according to congressional records. The company lobbied on several matters, including issues concerning nutrition, candy ingredients and labor standards.