A group of foreign teens are protesting in Central PA, they're taking on one of the country's biggest franchises for what they say are broken promises.
These students came to PA through a state run program called J-1 visa exchange visitor program.
They were promised jobs at McDonald’s, and also housing. They got it, but not what they were promised.
“I was cool, America is fancy like Hollywood, you have winter, I was really looking forward to it,” stated Chi Ann.
Chi Ann is from Malaysia, she looked forward to her American journey. Through the J-1 program, she was promised a job at McDonald’s and housing through the franchise’s owner Andy Cheung. Instead, since December she's lived in the basement of a house Cheung owns.
“Eight of us living, four girls four boys we only have a room curtain that separates the sleeping sides, just a curtain, it's nothing,” Chi Ann explained.
The group pays $520 a week to live there, they share one bathroom and don’t feel safe.
“Of course not, we don't have a door, people walk in and just go down in the basement, people can walk in and go downstairs
They protested at the McDonald’s Wednesday and some student workers claim in addition to being lied to about their living conditions, they also aren't paid for OT and are expected to be on call.
”On schedule 30 hours a week but they would call, ‘hey in right now’ and ‘come in right now,’ Chi Ann told us.
Student workers in the J-1 program are brought here through host organizations who work with employers like Cheung.
The students pay more than $3,000 to participate.
“I feel cheated, I expected a house, not a basement that's the worst part,” Chi Ann continued.
Chi Ann is wrapping up her stay, but she's protesting so no one else feels lied to.
“Whatever you promised should be, townhouse should not be a basement should be a better measurement on what they are doing and I hope they are banned from doing whatever they are doing because this is wrong and I don't want anyone treated like this, it should end,” Chi Ann concluded.
This is not the first local issue with teens and the J-1 program. Two years ago, a similar protest was held by students working for Hershey under the program.