“We have been exploited by McDonald’s because we have beenworking for McDonald’s but we did not receive overtime or the factthat we have been put to be on-call all day had to do with the wayMcDonald’s designed our schedules,” he told ABC News.Jorge Rios, the Argentinian student, came to the US in December2012 to work for the franchise as part of a work-study programoffered by the US State Department. Rios claims that he and 17other foreign students have all faced the same mistreatment. Eachof them paid $3,000 to $4,000 for their plane tickets, visa, andother travel costs, only to undergo a level of exploitation thatthey never expected to face in the US.A private company that brings foreign students to the US setRios up with the McDonald’s franchise. Rios is currently enrolledat the National University of Misiones in Posadas, Argentina, andwas expecting valuable work experience in the US. He paid the heftyfees that the private company charged him to enroll him in theState Department’s program. But thousands of dollars later, hisexperience has been nothing less than a nightmare.Rios has launched a petition demanding that McDonald’s CEO andpresident Don Thompson provide overtime pay and “basic laborstandards” for student workers. The petition, which waslaunched in partnership with the National Guestworker Alliance,currently has 5,283 signatures.“We expected to have 40 hours of work a week, but we weregiven as little as four hours a week at the minimum wage of $7.25an hour,” he writes in the petition. “The employer knew wewere desperate for more hours, and he kept us on call to come inwith 30 minutes’ notice all day and night. I didn’t even have timeto visit the public library.”While constantly on call and making little money, Rios has sofar been deprived of the cultural experience he was expecting toget out of his four-month visit. Additionally, he claims to havebeen forced to stay in unlivable conditions in a child-sized bunkbed. Rios and the other foreign workers each paid the McDonald’sfranchise $300 per month for inadequate housing.“As many as eight of us lived in a single basement,” hetold ABC. “We slept on bunk beds made for children that shookand squeaked. We had no privacy whatsoever.”A spokesperson for the McDonald’s franchise told the newsstation that it was investigating the claims. The private companythat runs the students’ program, Geovisions, said it is alsolooking into the complaints.Meanwhile, Rios and a number of other students are currentlyprotesting the actions of the McDonald’s franchise in Harrisburg,PA, to receive overtime pay for the hours that weren’t counted intheir paychecks. And while Rios’ experience is quickly garneringnational attention, other foreign students might not be solucky.The State Department’s J-1 Summer Work Travel Program each yearallows more than 100,000 foreign college students to work in the USfor up to four months. But the program has come under scrutinybefore: the Associated Press last year discovered an internal memodescribing widespread exploitation by deceitful labor brokers andorganized criminals in the sex industry. In the most severe cases,foreign students reported being beaten, raped and forced to work asstrippers after being promised other jobs in the US, likewaitressing. The State Department has since implemented a number ofchanges that banned jobs in factories and warehouses.But this most recent case of exploitation, as described by Rios,sheds further light on the misuses of the program. With a franchiseas large as McDonald’s exploiting its foreign workers, there’s notelling how many smaller companies might be doing the same thing –or worse – to its work-study participants.