The Hershey Company has always put its employees first. Focus and commitment to employees is what established the Company as a manufacturing leader during the pandemic.  While other manufacturing plants had to close and/or furlough employees in 2020 and 2021, Hershey’s commitment to keeping employees safe and operating our plants with employee safety and well-being as our top priority is what kept our plants open, operating, and ensured job stability for our valued employees and their families. 

Now, approximately 1400 employees at Stuarts Draft are facing a critical decision that will impact their future work life and that of every potential new employee considering whether to join the Hershey team – should I vote to bring a union into our workplace? 

While Hershey successfully operates 5 union-free plants along with 2 union plants, we urge you to look at the differences in the union plants (wages, benefits, and working conditions) to identify all that you risk losing.  Also understand that with a union contract comes a legal process that  employees have to go through if they decide the union is not able to deliver what it promised and they want to stop being represented.   There is no just trying it out for a few months to see how it goes.

We have created a special environment and culture here at one of the most important Hershey plants in the world. To be clear, we do not want a union at Stuart’s Draft and here are just a few of the reasons why: 

Recruiting in Stuart’s Draft is already difficult.  When prospective employees have the choice of paying to work, or working in a dues-free workplace, which choice do you think they are more likely to make? This can be an issue even in a “right-to-work” state.

A union gambles with employees’ wages and benefits and since Hershey pays those expenses, we prefer to be able to ensure you receive the competitive wages and quality benefits you deserve.

A union is a business with goals, objectives, philosophies, and rules that don’t always align with those of the company and our employees.    

A contract often has requirements that must be followed with little to no flexibility in response to individual employee needs or requests.

During contract negotiations, which can last for months, and possibly longer  (with the law not requiring a contract to ever be reached), the Company cannot improve wages or benefits  (unless the decision about the change was made before the election petition was filed or agreed to by the union during negotiations). We don’t currently have an issue with attrition, but we could if employees don’t want to potentially have to wait for wage increases and/or improvement(s) to benefits.

93% of private-sector employees choose to remain union-free.

Together, as a Stuarts Draft family, without an outside third party, we have built one of the greatest manufacturing plants in the world.  We look forward to building for the future … together – with every employee continuing to have their own voice in creating that future and playing a role in making Stuarts Draft even greater, without relinquishing that relationship to a union. 

We all know that we have been, and will continue to be, stronger together. 


Hershey maintains a relationship with unions in only 2 of our 7 U.S. locations.  Hershey’s only relationship with the BCTGM started in 1939 with the original plant at 19 East and transitioned to West Hershey.

In the 1950’s, union popularity was high, when as many as 35% of private-sector employees were unionized. In 2021, now that many of the protections previously provided by unions is readily available at no cost to employees through resources such as the EEOC, OSHA, DOL, only 6.3% of private-sector employees choose to belong to a union. (Teachers, law enforcement, firefighters, government employees, etc. are considered public-sector employees.)

That loss of membership similarly applies to the BCTGM over the years.  In 2000, they represented 125,000 members.  Today, that number has shrunk to just over 60,000 members across the U.S.

The BCTGM Local 203-T in Richmond membership has declined from 2775 members to just 945 members today.

Rumor – The union will remedy any instance of “poor leadership, disrespectful and unprofessional treatment” of employees. 

Fact – The union has no right or ability to control who holds a leadership position, or the manner in which leadership chooses to engage with employees.  Respect and professionalism in the workplace is something over which employers address directly with their leadership team. 

Rumor – The BCTGM union rarely strikes. 

Fact – The BCTGM admits that “a strike is your weapon” and “with the exception of this year”, BCTGM normally settles contracts without a strike.  While the union claims it may be rare, strikes happen (even by the BCTGM).

Rumor – “Workers/Members run their own union.”

Fact –  While a committee made up of bargaining unit employees may assist professional union negotiators, it is the union negotiator who ultimately decides what is bargained and, strategically, how it’s bargained.  Employees are then subject to the terms and conditions of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (negotiated by the union), along with the union’s rules and regulations.