May 3, 2016
[This letter in support of ILAB funding was recently sent to appropriators Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Patty Murray, and Representatives Tom Cole and Rosa DeLauro on behalf of 46 organizations, representing tens of millions of Americans].
Dear Chairs and Ranking Members:
As the undersigned members of the NGO community and anti-child labor advocates, we write to urge you to ensure critical funding to end child labor and forced labor around the world.
The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) at the U.S. Department of Labor has worked for 20 years to reduce exploitative child labor, combat forced labor, and provide technical assistance to address worker rights in countries with which the United States has trade agreements or preference programs.
As you determine funding levels for Fiscal Year 2017, we ask that you restore ILAB’s child labor grant funding to $58.8 million (fiscal year 2015 levels) to ensure that ILAB’s critical work towards ending exploitative child labor continues. In addition, we ask that you approve $10 million for programs that address worker rights issues through technical assistance in countries with which the United States has free trade agreements or trade preference programs, and $9.5 million for program evaluation to continue the ensuring that ILAB’s work is grounded in the needs of vulnerable children and their families and that it continues to show results in prevention of child labor and labor rights violations.
Approximately 168 million children around the world are engaged in child labor and 85 million children perform hazardous work that threatens their health and development. Since 1995, ILAB has worked to build the capacity of governments and civil society to better address the various social and economic causes of child labor, and has provided direct services to almost 2 million vulnerable children and their families in over 90 countries. ILAB works with the public and private sectors to address child labor and forced labor, and promote fair and safe employment.
Through its holistic programming, ILAB works with international, government, and local actors to increase awareness, improve access to education, and develop economic opportunities for adults, allowing families to improve their livelihoods without relying on children for income to meet basic needs. Preventing and responding to child labor through such community-based approaches protects children from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence. Additionally, by identifying products made by forced labor and child labor and tracking the progress (or lack thereof) made by 125 countries to eliminate these practices, ILAB plays a critical role in driving advocacy to reduce these scourges.
Eliminating child labor is not only good for vulnerable children and families but it also supports U.S. businesses who are currently disadvantaged when they have to compete with businesses that cut costs by illegally employing children.
ILAB grant programs are a key driver in implementing the U.S. Action Plan for Children in Adversity and the effort to end human trafficking. As the primary U.S. agency for combatting exploitative child labor, ILAB has contributed to the global effort that has seen the number of children subjected to hazardous labor cut in half since 2000.
In the wake of the recent enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, the US is moving to implement the Tariff Act’s ban on importing goods made with forced, prison, or forced child labor. As an office with refined expertise in these areas, ILAB will play a critical role in working with other agency partners to build an effective approach to the implementation of this robust prohibition, which could have tremendous impact around the world.
The U.S. is currently a leader in combatting human trafficking, protecting ILAB’s funding would continue the U.S.’s leadership in this issue by also helping to prevent children from becoming vulnerable to worst forms of child labor, including trafficking. ILAB’s deep experience and expertise in this area makes it is best suited to continue this work, thus we urge you to ensure that funding continues for the agency’s critical work.
Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking
American Federation of Teachers
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
Bank Information Center
Child Labor Coalition
Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
Communications Workers of America
East Coast Migrant
Head Start Project
First Focus Campaign for Children
Free the Slaves
Global Campaign for Education—US
Global Fairness Initiative
Human Rights Watch
Injury Control Research Center, West Virginia University
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
International Initiative to End Child Labor
International Labor Rights Forum
Media Voices for Children Migrant
Legal Action Program
National Association of State Directors of Migrant Education
National Consumers League
National Education Association
National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association
The Ramsay Merriam Fund
Save the Children
Solidarity Center, AFL-CIO
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
United Methodist Church, Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Women
United Mine Workers of America
US Fund for UNICEF
Walden Asset Management
A World at School
[If you would like to add your organization’s name to future iterations of this letter, please email email@example.com]