Sept. 16, 2009
Washington, D.C.—The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) applauds the introduction of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), H.R. 3564, introduced September 15th by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). The legislation would close loopholes that permit the children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers to work for wages when they are only 12- and 13-years-old.
“Child farmworkers are exposed to many dangers—farm machinery, heat stroke, and pesticides among them—and perform back-breaking labor that is not fit for children,” said CLC co-chair Sally Greenberg, the executive director of the National Consumers League, a consumer advocacy organization that has worked to eliminate abusive child labor since its founding in 1899. “It’s time to level the playing field by closing these archaic loopholes and offering these children the same protections that all other American kids enjoy. We applaud Rep. Roybal-Allard’s leadership in introducing CARE.”
“Working migrant children pay a heavy price educationally for their labor,” said Antonia Cortese, a co-chair of the CLC and the Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.4 million public service employees. “Many farmworker children leave school before the school year ends and return after it begins. The constant travel and work wears many children out. They struggle to catch up academically, but for many it’s a losing battle—and more than half never graduate high school.”
Passage of CARE is a priority for the CLC, whose membership includes several groups that work to protect child farmworkers in the U.S., including the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, Farmworker Justice, Human Rights Watch, Migrant Legal Action Program, the National Association of State Directors of Migrant Education, and the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association. The CLC, founded in 1989, has 22 members, including several of America’s largest unions.
In addition to raising the minimum age at which children could work in the field, CARE would establish minimum fines and raise them for employers who violate agricultural child labor laws when those violations lead to serious injury, illness, or death of minors. The bill would also mandate that employers report injuries and deaths of child farmworkers and directs the Department of Labor to produce annual reports about children working in agriculture and the injuries and fatalities they incur. The legislation would also strengthen regulations that protect minors from pesticide exposure.
About the Child Labor Coalition
The Child Labor Coalition is a group of more than 20 organizations, representing consumers, labor unions, educators, human rights and labor rights groups, child advocacy groups, and religious and women’s groups. It was established in 1989, and is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers. Its mission is to protect working youth and to promote legislation, programs, and initiatives to end child labor exploitation in the United States and abroad. For more information, please call CLC Coordinator Reid Maki at (202) 207-2820 [firstname.lastname@example.org].