Posts

More than 150 Groups Urged U.S. to Implement Child Safety Rules for Agriculture But U.S. DOL Succumbs to Political Pressure from Farm Lobby and Withdraws Proposed Protections

[The CLC submitted the following letter to Secretary Solis, urging her to implement the first update of occupational child safety rules for agriculture in four decades. The letter was originally submitted in March with 105 signatories. This update had 156 organizational endorsements. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor withdrew the proposed rules in late April under strong pressure from the Farm Lobby .]

April 19, 2012

The Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210

RE: Updates to the Agricultural Hazardous Occupations Orders as Proposed by the Department of Labor

Dear Secretary Solis:

The Child Labor Coalition represents millions of Americans, including teachers, workers, farmworkers, farmworker advocates, and human rights activists concerned about the safety, education, and welfare of children who work in agriculture. We understand the needs of our nation’s farmworker families and have seen the effects of agricultural work, especially on children. The Coalition, along with the organizations listed below, support the proposed changes to the agricultural hazardous orders and implore the Department to implement the changes as quickly as possible.

As many as 500,000 children and teenagers toil in agriculture, an industry consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous industries in America. Last year, 12 of the 16 children under age 16 who suffered fatal occupational injuries worked in crop production, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Just this past August, Oklahoma teens Tyler Zander and Bryce Gannon, both 17, each lost a leg in a grain auger accident. We can prevent these tragedies from happening to other children by implementing the proposed updates to the hazardous orders without delay. The rules won’t impair the rural way of life; they simply put the safety and well-being of children above corporate profit.

Read more

US Labor Department cites Nickerson Farms for child labor violations

More than $48,000 in penalties assessed after investigators find 7 children working in fields

Wage & Hour Press Release

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Labor has fined Robert Nickerson Farms of Wellton, Ariz., $48,000 in civil money penalties after finding seven children between the ages of nine and 13 working during this past summer’s okra harvest.

An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Robert Nickerson Farms employed six children – three 13-year-olds, one 12-year-old, one 11-year-old and one 9-year-old – to weed okra fields between June and August of this year. Another 11-year-old was hired to set gopher traps and dispose of the dead animals. Investigators confirmed that the children over 11 years of age were all employed without written parental consent, which is required by the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions. Children under the age of 12 cannot legally be employed by Robert Nickerson Farms.

“Having children under the legal age of employment work in agriculture, and without written parental consent, is not only wrong but against the law,” said George Friday Jr., regional administrator of the Wage and Hour Division’s Western Regional Office. “We must do everything that we can to protect the most vulnerable workers among us.”

Individuals under the age of 12 may be employed in agricultural jobs with parental consent, but only on very small farms that are not subject to the federal minimum wage requirements. The Robert Nickerson farm is categorized as a large farm, employing more than 80 workers.… Read the rest