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Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers from U.S. DOL

From the U.S. Department of Labor….
Train Management

Train Management

Train supervisors and managers on child labor requirements. Our fact sheets provide guidance on nonagricultural occupations and farm jobs for young workers.

Distribute Resources

Distribute Resources

Provide child labor publications to all current and new workers under the age of 18. View our Young Worker Toolkit.

Build Trust

Build Trust

Establish an internal phone number that allows workers to report child labor violations anonymously. Let workers know that reporting violations will not lead to retaliation.

Provide Different Nametags

Provide Different Nametags

Provide workers under the age of 16 with a different color nametag than those worn by older workers. There are different hours and job rules for workers under 16.

Post Warnings

Post Warnings

Post information about child labor hours limitations in a conspicuous place. Read Fact Sheet #43 to learn more about these limits in nonagricultural occupations.

Use Signage

Use Signage

Place signage on equipment that 14- and 15-year-old workers are prohibited to use. Download and print this flyer.

Spotlight Hazards
[From https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/child-labor/seven-child-labor-best-practices-for-employers]

Spotlight Hazards

Post a “STOP” sticker on all the equipment that the Department of Labor considers hazardous for use by minors.

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Press Release: National Consumers League condemns legislation in Florida that preempts local ordinances to protect workers from heat exposure

March 15, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League is condemning a vote by the Florida House of Representatives to approve legislation that will upend Miami-Dade’s proposed local workplace standards requiring drinking water, cooling measures, recovery periods, posting or distributing materials informing workers how to protect themselves, and requiring first aid or emergency responses. The Florida Senate approved the measure yesterday.

This measure rushed through the state legislature ahead of adjournment on Friday, March 8th and will prevent local governments throughout Florida from requiring water, shade breaks or training so workers can protect themselves from heat illness, injury, and fatality.

Reid Maki, director of child labor advocacy for the Child Labor Coalition under the National Consumers League, made this statement:

“Not only is the Florida legislature usurping the duty of local government to protect workers from heat stress in one of the hottest states in America, but by denying workers access to water and protection this Dickensian measure ignores the reality of heat and heatstroke among Florida’s workers. Indeed, hundreds of workers die across the U.S. from heat exposure each year. The legislation also forbids the posting of educational materials to help workers protect themselves from the heat.

NCL has throughout its history worked to eradicate child labor and abusive labor practices, including protecting children in America working in the fields from exposure to heat, dangerous chemicals, and long hours. U.S. law allows children to work at younger ages in the agricultural sector despite its significantly increased danger. It also allows teens to do work known to be dangerous at younger ages—16 versus 18. NCL works to close both of those loopholes and protect children from agricultural dangers and exploitation. These vulnerable teen workers in agriculture are at great risk from heat exposure.

NCL is urging Governor Ron DeSantis to veto this legislation. NCL also urges the United States Congress to enact the Asuncíon Valdivia Heat Illness, Injury and Fatality Prevention Act, which would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to adopt interim heat standards, while the agency continues its years-long slog of adopting a final heat protection rule. NCL is a member of the national Heat Stress Network, which works to protect outdoor works from heat dangers.

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Child Labor Coalition welcomes the Senate Introduction of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety Act of 2024 (CARE Act)

Press Release

March 25, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Reid Maki, reidm@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2820

 

Washington, DC – With the beginning of Farmworker Awareness Week today, the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), representing 37 groups engaged in the fight against domestic and global child labor, applauds Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and for introducing the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE). The legislation, introduced on March 21, would close long-standing loopholes that permit children in agriculture to work for wages when they are only 12 and 13—younger than other teens can work. The bill would also ban jobs on farms labeled “hazardous” by the U.S. Department of Labor if workers are under the age of 18. Current U.S. law allows children to perform hazardous work at age 16.

“With their whole future ahead of them, our country must do better protecting children working in the agriculture industry,” said Senator Luján. “Across the country, thousands of children are working under hazardous conditions in the agriculture sector, risking their health and education. I’m introducing the CARE Act to raise the floor and bring our agricultural labor lines in with other industries to better protect children and improve the working conditions they operate in.”

“It’s amazing to us that discriminatory loopholes, which allow very young kids to work 70- and 80-hours a week, performing back-breaking labor on farms, have been allowed to exist since the 1930s,” said Reid Maki, Director of Child Labor Advocacy for the National Consumers League and the Child Labor Coalition. “The impact of the exemptions on farmworker children educationally is harmful and their health is at significant risk on farms.”

“We’re grateful for Senator Luján’s tremendous leadership on this issue.” said the CLC’s Chair Sally Greenberg, also the CEO of the National Consumers League. “It’s been 22 years since we’ve had a Senate bill that would fix our weak child labor laws that discriminate against farmworker children and leave them unprotected from farm dangers. This day was long overdue. We applaud Senator Lujan for taking action to protect child farmworkers.

“Growing up as a migrant farmworker child, I saw first-hand the detrimental consequences of our inequitable child labor laws,” says Norma Flores López, Chair of the Child Labor Coalition’s Domestic Issues Committee. “Working 70 hours a week, performing back-breaking work did not prepare me for a career in agriculture. Rather, it robbed me of my childhood and my health. Working children must be protected from dangerous work that is not age-appropriate, and the CARE Act provides this critical change in our labor laws.”

In the House, Rep. Raul Ruiz introduced a version of the CARE Act, H.R. 4046, earlier in the congressional session; it has 45 cosponsors.

The Senate bill, which does not have a number yet, has been endorsed by 46 organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute, the UFW, Farmworker Justice, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Farm Medicine Center. The House version has been endorsed by 200 national, regional, and state-based organizations, noted Maki.

“The US will not fix the country’s child labor problem until Congress provides children working in agriculture with the same protections as all other working children. Congress should pass this bill without delay to protect children from dangerous work that harms their health and development,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director, Human Rights Watch.

In addition to raising the minimum age at which children could work in agriculture, CARE would significantly increase minimum fines for employers who violate agricultural child labor laws; the bill would also establish minimum fines for the first time. The legislation would also codify a ban on children applying pesticides and increase data collection and analysis of child farmworker injuries.

The children of farm owners working on their parents’ farms would not be covered by the protections of the CARE Act—this aligns with the wishes of organized farmer groups.

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Child Labor Coalition lauds Wage and Hour’s child labor enforcement strategies that includes creating a fund for victims and use of “hot goods” provisions

March 27, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League/Child Labor Coalition – Reid Maki, reidm@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2820

 

Washington, DC – The Child Labor Coalition (CLC), representing 37 groups engaged in the fight against domestic and global child labor, expresses support for the innovative enforcement strategies in this week’s enforcement action by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The action, announced March 25th, involved fines of $296,951 for a Tennessee parts manufacturer, Tuff Torq, and required the company to set aside $1.5 million as “disgorgement” of 30 days’ profit related to the company’s use of child labor. Disgorgement is a legal term for remedy requiring a party that profits from illegal activity to give up any profits that result from that activity.

Tuff Torq, which makes components for outdoor, power-equipment brands such as John Deere, Toro, and Yamaha, illegally employed 10 children, including a 14-year-old, for work that was hazardous—an identified task involved permitting a child to operate a power-driven-hoisting apparatus, which is a prohibited occupational task.

The Department employed several new or recent strategies in the case, including employing the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “hot goods” provision, which was used to stop the shipment of goods made with oppressive child labor.

“The use of the ‘hot goods’ enforcement tool is also an important new strategy, which Wage and Hour announced it would use last year,” said Reid Maki, director of Child Labor Advocacy for the National Consumers League (NCL) and the CLC. “It’s another critical tool in DOL’s arsenal. Once companies realize that the shipment of goods has been stopped, they feel an immediate impact of the violation.”

“This is the first use of victim’s fund that we have noticed in a child labor enforcement action,” added Maki. “Teens employed in factory settings are often unaccompanied minors and typically very impoverished. When enforcement agents find teens working illegally, they are dismissed with no resources to survive, move forward, and reassemble their lives. A victim’s fund is something the CLC and the Campaign to End US Child Labor – the CLC is a founding member – has touted as desperately needed.”

A third innovation involves how DOL calculates child labor fines. DOL recently announced it planned to change formulas for calculating fines, which previously had been capped at $15,000 per child involved in violations at a specific work site. The new strategy involves applying the maximum fines for each violation, not limited to the number of children involved.

“It’s clear they have used the new formula in the Tuff Torq fines,” said Maki. “Fines levels came in at an average of $30,000 per child—almost double what we would have seen under the old formula. With Congress unable, at this point, to pass into law any of several bills that would increase fines by a factor of ten, DOL’s creativity here is most welcome. Fines must be raised to inflict some real pain on corporate perpetrators. We’re not where we want to be yet, but it’s good to inch closer.”

“Wage and Hour also deserves praise for directing its enforcement action at Tuff Torq,” noted Maki. “In the past, corporations that benefited from child labor have often not been held accountable, as they blamed staffing agencies for illegal hires. Holding beneficiaries accountable is something DOL said it would do when it announced its meatpacking investigation results in February 2023—it’s great to see it happening.”

The Wage and Hour Division faces a big challenge in that its inspectorate, estimated at below 750 inspectors, is too small for a country the size of the U.S. The CLC has called for a doubling of the inspectorate over the next five years and is working to help increase congressional appropriations for that purpose.

Wage and Hour has noted a sharp increase in child labor in recent years, having found 5,792 minors working in violation of child labor laws. The Economic Policy Institute indicates the increase in violations is 300 percent since 2015.

“We are especially troubled by the prevalence of children in hazardous work,” said CLC Chair Sally Greenberg, who is also the CEO of the National Consumers League. “Far too many children are working illegally in meatpacking, auto supply factories, and other hazardous work sites. The U.S. can and must do more to protect these vulnerable children.”

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The Guardian: “How child labour in India makes the paving stones beneath our feet”

“Despite promises of reform, exploitation remains endemic in India’s sandstone industry, withchildren doing dangerous work for low pay –often to decorate driveways and yards thousands of miles away.”

By Romita Saluja [3/28/2024

Excerpt:

Sonu and his mother work eight hours a day, usually six days a week, making small paving stones, many of which are exported to the UK, North America and Europe. Sonu began working after his father died of the lung disease silicosis in 2021. “First, he made five stones, then 10, and then he quit school to work full-time,” his mother said. The pair sit on a street close to their home, amid heaps of sandstone rubble, chiselling rocks into rough cubes of rugged stone. Sonu is paid one rupee – less than a penny – for each cobblestone he produces. These stones have a retail value of about £80 a square metre in the UK.

 

Read the story here.

 

[Published in The Guardian March 28, 2024]