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In the context of U.S. child labor, what would fairness look like?

For me fairness would be treating working children the same under US law. Since 1938 and the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the US has discriminated against children who do farm work, allowing them to work unlimited hours at the age of 12.

It’s not uncommon to see migrant farmworker children at 12 working beside the impoverished parents for 12-14 hours a day.

On very small farms kids are allowed to work at even younger ages.

A 12-year-old is not allowed to work in an air-conditioned office, but the law permits them to do back-breaking work on a farm for 14 hours in 100 degree heat.

And loopholes allow children working for wages on farms to do dangerous tasks at 16 when they have to be 18 in all other work places.

To make things worse, the Trump administration has signaled that it is considering trying to remove protections that help keep kids stay safe in dangerous jobs on roofs, in wood-working shops, in machine shops, in meat-processing plants, and at excavation sites.

The administration is even trying to reverse the ban on children applying pesticides on commercial farms.

Let’s fight for fairness and for equitable child labor laws. Let’s fight for regulations that protect all children and don’t expose impoverished children to needless occupational dangers.

A young US farmworker (Photo courtesy of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs)

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The National Consumers League’s Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens 2014: An Annual Guide to Help Teenagers Select Safe Employment and Protect Themselves on the Job

Introduction:

Jobs for teens are an important part of youth development, providing both needed income and teaching valuable work skills. A survey from Citigroup and Seventeen magazine released in August of 2013, found that almost 80 percent of students take at least a part-time job during the school year. Many teens take summer jobs. A job can build confidence, teach social skills, and provide an array of other benefits. According to research in the January/February 2011 issue of Child Development, teen jobs decrease the likelihood  working teens will drop out of school—as long as teens work 20 hours or less each week during the school year—and they increase future earnings [Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies].

However, there are dangers associated with teen work. In a typical year, 25-35 children die at work in the U.S. Twenty years ago, that number was over 70. To some extent, these dropping numbers are a result of fewer teens working. Since the recession of 2007, too many teens have been competing for too few jobs. The summer of 2014, however, saw some improvement in the summer teen job market. The youth unemployment rate in July was 13.6 percent—the lowest rate in 6 years. However that rate is still over twice the adult unemployment rate. We believe that health and safety education efforts are also helping to reduce teen fatalities.

Every 12 and a half days a child dies at work. In 2012, 29 children died while working. That number may seem small compared to the more than 4,500 adults who died that year, but for every family that loses a teen, their preventable deaths are an unspeakable tragedy.

This report is an attempt to educate the public about workplace dangers teen workers face with the hope that teenagers, their parents, and employers can work together to reduce accidents and fatalities. Jobs held by teenagers can contribute meaningfully to a child’s development and maturity and teach new skills and responsibilities, but the safety of each job must be a consideration.

Many teens lack the experience and sense of caution needed to protect themselves from workplace jobs. In scientific speak, “young workers have unique and substantial risks for work-related injuries…because of their biologic, social, and economic characteristics.” They are reluctant to refuse to do tasks just because they are dangerous or to ask for safety information. Research on the developing brain suggests that there are neurological reasons why teens do not always evaluate dangers properly—that portion of their brain is still developing.

In the following pages, the National Consumers League (NCL) identifies five teen jobs that are more dangerous than most and provides tips to help teens improve their chances of having a safe and rewarding work experience.

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Kremlin Boys Still Critical

By Robert Barron, Staff WriterEnid News and Eagle

ENID — Two Kremlin youths caught in a grain auger remain in critical condition Sunday at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

Tyler Zander and Bryce Gannon, both 17, were seriously injured Thursday morning when they were pulled into a large grain auger at Zaloudek Grain Co. They were extricated from the auger by emergency responders and flown to OU Medical Center, where they were listed in critical condition Sunday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

A 911 call was received at about 9:10 a.m. from another worker who was in the same building where the two teens were trapped. The boys were taken from the building at about 10:30 a.m. and flown to the hospital.

Kremlin Fire Chief Derrick Harris said the boys went straight to surgery upon arrival.

The two were caught by their legs while working in the auger, and rescue workers had to cut the auger before Gannon and Zander could be removed.

The incident is under investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Administration officials said the result could take up to six months to complete. There have been no previous violations at Zaloudek Grain Co.

Through mutual-aid agreements, Kremlin received assistance from Breckinridge, Enid, Hillsdale-Carrier, Hunter and Pond Creek fire departments in the incident. Garfield County Sheriff’s Department also responded, as did Life EMS, said Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management Director Mike Honigsberg.

Honigsberg said two helicopters from Eagle Med also responded… Read the rest

Workplace Violence, Child Labor in Nigeria

Robert Evans, Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – Some 15 million children work in Nigeria, often in dangerous jobs, and many workers in Africa’s most populous nation live in fear of violence from police and employers, the global labor grouping ITUC said on Monday.

The report said many core international labor standards that the energy-rich African giant has signed up to were regularly breached and there was widespread discrimination against women and minority groups in the labor market.

“Some 15 million children are at work, many in dangerous jobs,” said the ITUC — the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation, which represents some 175 million workers in 151 countries, including Nigeria, around the world.

“Unions frequently experience violent attacks and there is little protection from anti-union discrimination,” said the report submitted to the 153-member World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva.

Women and minority groups face discrimination in getting jobs and getting promotion, it said. “The gender pay gap stands at 68 percent and the majority of women are employed in precarious and informal economic activities.”

The WTO is this week discussing Nigeria’s trade policies, a process through which all its members pass regularly, and the ITUC insists that the trade body should also look at labor practices.

But WTO officials, and most developing country trade diplomats, say labor conditions — despite efforts in the past by the United States and some European countries to bring them in — remain outside its remit.

Nigeria, with a population of some 155 million and extensive oil resources, has ratified all eight of the core International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions protecting workers’ rights including freedom of unions to organize and ending child labor.… Read the rest