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U.S. DOL obtains order to force Los Angeles-area meat processor, staffing agency to give up $327,000 in profits from oppressive child labor

USDOL News Release June 25, 2024

Investigation revealed children working dangerous jobs, unlawful hours

CITY OF INDUSTRY, CA – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment in a federal court ordering a City of Industry meat processor and a Downey staffing agency to surrender $327,484 in illegal profits made from sales of products associated with oppressive, exploitative child labor. The judgment also requires the employers to pay the department $62,516 in penalties.

The June 20, 2024, judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that determined A&J Meats and The Right Hire jointly employed and endangered children as young as 15 by tasking them to use sharp knives, allowing them to work inside freezers and coolers, and to scheduling them to work at times not permitted by law, all in violation of federal child labor regulations.

“A&J Meats and The Right Hire knowingly endangered these children’s safety and put their companies’ profits before the well-being of these minors,” said Western Regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco. “These employers egregiously violated federal law and now, both have learned about the serious consequences for those who so callously expose children to harm.”

Specifically, division investigators found that children worked at the facility more than three hours a day on school days, past 7 p.m. and more than 18 hours per week while school was in session. The Fair Labor Standards Act forbids employers from employing children under age of 18 in dangerous occupations, including most jobs in meat and poultry slaughtering, processing, rendering and packing establishments.

The judgment also forbids A&J Meats, owner Priscilla Helen Castillo, and The Right Hire staffing agency from future FLSA violations and from trying to trade goods connected to oppressive child labor. In addition, all three parties must also provide annual FLSA training for at least four years and submit to monitoring by an independent third-party for three years.

Castillo’s father, Tony Bran, has also been the found illegally employing children at three poultry processing companies he operates. In October 2023, the same California court ordered his companies to stop endangering children, withholding pay, retaliating, and shipping “hot goods” produced in violation of overtime and child labor laws.

“No employer should ever profit from exploited children,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez in San Francisco. “When we find children employed in violation of the law, we will take steps to ensure that we can hold all employers accountable under the law. Companies that use staffing agencies to meet their labor needs cannot escape liability for child labor violations when they are in fact also employers themselves.”

The department encourages businesses to monitor their supply chains closely to make sure the goods they purchase, produce and sell are not made with oppressive and illegal child labor.

The department continues to combat child labor abuses and wage theft in the poultry and meat processing industries. This judgment follows numerous cases in California and nationwide where meat processing facilities were found illegally employing children and endangering their safety and wellbeing.

Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers and employers can call the division confidentially with questions or concerns – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE (487-9243). Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free in English or Spanish.

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
June 25, 2024
Release Number
24-1107-SAN
Media Contact: Michael Petersen
Media Contact: Jose Carnevali
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CLC’s Reid Maki joins America’s Workforce Union Podcast for World Day Against Child Labor

Listen to the podcast by clicking here.

 

[From America’s Workforce Union Podcast]

In honor of World Day Against Child Labor, Reid Maki, the director of child labor issues and coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to talk about his organization’s work to end abusive child labor practices. He discussed some of the major violations over the past 18 months in America and how the CLC is educating legislators on proposed legislation that could improve the regulation of child labor.

The CLC, a part of the National Consumers League, has been in operation for the last 35 years and has worked closely with unions since its inception to help prevent child labor abuse in the workforce. Maki discussed some of the organizations that regularly work with the CLC to prevent child labor violations. He also discussed what the Fair Labor Standards Act did to prevent many, but not all, of the child labor issues in America.

Despite the efforts from the labor movement and the CLC, there are far too many child labor violations in the U.S. Maki talked about the recent incident where a 13-year-old was found that working overnight shifts at a Hyundai production plant in Alabama and how something like could happen. He also talked about similar events over the past 18 months in Tennessee, Iowa and Virginia and how the U.S. Department of Labor is finding new ways to enforce child labor penalties on companies and make them impactful. Maki that many of the violations are found after an investigation into a report from teachers and individuals concerned for the children’s well-being. However, he believes this problem can be fixed with better monitoring practices.

Finally, Maki talked about what the CLC is doing to raise awareness of the issue as part of the plans for World Day Against Child Labor. The CLC will be holding a briefing on the Hill in Washington, D.C., to educate members of Congress about the legislative options that could help resolve the child labor issues. Among the pieces of legislation that Maki discussed was a bill that would regulate child workers on farms. He explained more about the proposal and why there are currently gaps in policy related to child workers on farms.

To hear more about the efforts to eliminate child labor violations, listen to the show above.


America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America’s workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.

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2024 Domestic Child Labor Bills the Child Labor Coalition endorses:

Bills to increase fines:

  • R. 2956 — “Combating Child Labor Act” by Rep. Kildee (D-MI) 42 cosponsors as of  4/16/2024
  • R. 2388 — “Justice for Exploited Children Act of 2023” by Rep. Scholten (D-MI)

7 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024. [This bill is Bipartisan].

  • 637 — “Child Labor Prevention Act” by Sen. Schatz (D-HI)

12 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024

  • 3051 – Stop Child Labor Act by Senator Schatz (D-HI)

1 cosponsor as of 4/16/2024 [This bill is an update of Schatz’s bill listed prior and is also bipartisan]

 

Bills that seek increased fines AND multiple other improvements:

  • R. 6079 – CHILD Labor Act by Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) also known as “Children Harmed in Life-threatening or Dangerous Labor Act”

21 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024

  • 3163 – CHILD Labor Act by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) also known as “Children Harmed in Life-threatening or Dangerous Labor Act” [Companion bill to H.R. 6079]

16 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024

  • R. 4440 – “Protecting Children Act” by Rep. Scott (D-VA) 8 Cosponsors as of 8/11/23

9 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024

 

 

Protecting child farmworkers:

  • R. 4020 – “Children Don’t Belong on Tobacco Farms Act by Rep. DeLauro” (D-CT)

2 cosponsors as of 4/16/24

  • 1921 – “Children Don’t Belong on Tobacco Farms Act” by Senator Durbin (D-IL)

3 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024

  • R.4046 – “Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety — CARE Act” by Rep. Ruiz (D-CA)

45 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024

  • 4038 – “Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety — CARE Act” by Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)

0 Cosponsor listed, but we’re told Senator Casey has agreed to cosponsor.

 

Procurement Bills regarding child labor:

  • 1288 — “Child Labor Exploitation Accountability Act” by Sen. Booker (D-NJ)

5 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024

  • 3139 – “Preventing Child Labor Exploitation Act” by Sen. Booker (D-NJ). [This is an update of the prior Booker procurement bill and is now bipartisan].

1 cosponsor as of 3/7/2024

  • R. 2822 — “Child Labor Exploitation Accountability Act” by Rep. Casar (D-TX)

34 cosponsors as of 4/16/2024

 

Bill to improve labor inspectorate

 

  • R. 6634 — Workers POWER Act by Rep. McGarvey (D-KY) also known as “Workers Protecting Our Wage Earners Act”

50 Cosponsors as of 5/15/2024