By Naxiely Lopez
Article published on November 17, 2010
[From The Monitor, a South Texas newspaper. Got to the newspaper article by clicking here.]
SAN JUAN — It’s been almost half a century since migrant activist César Chávez began fighting for farmworkers’ rights.
And today, the battle is not over, especially when it comes to child labor laws, said Norma Flores Lopez, director of the national Children in the Fields campaign.
Launched in 1997 and funded by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), the Children in the Fields campaign seeks to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act — a federal law enacted in 1938 that allows children as young as 10 years old to work 30 hours a week or more in the fields, Lopez said.
The 25-year-old San Juan native now heads the initiative in Washington, D.C. She began working in the Iowa fields in the third grade.
“I never really put much thought to it when I was a kid,” Lopez said about working as a child. “To me it was a way of life and I thought every kid went through this. It never occurred to me that my life was very different from other kids. I just knew that I would come late (to school), we were living in poverty and I needed to help my parents.”
An estimated 400,000 children are currently employed in agriculture in the United States, according to the association, which advocates for migrants’ health and safety rights.
“Child labor law does not protect migrant seasonal workers, but it protects all other kids in all other industries,” said Noemi Ochoa, the AFOP Texas state coordinator.… Read the rest