Recent child labor developments in the U.S. and abroad.

Agriprocessors Trial: Underage Workers Describe BRUTAL Working Conditions At Iowa Plant

MICHAEL J. CRUMB | 05/10/10 06:59 PM |

WATERLOO, Iowa — A former underage worker cried Monday while testifying she was exposed to harsh chemicals at an Iowa slaughterhouse where she and other teens worked 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Yesenia Cordero Mendoza, now 18, was one of two former underage workers to testify against former manager Sholom Rubashkin, who faces 83 child labor violation charges stemming from a May 2008 raid at the plant in which 389 illegal immigrants, including 31 children, were detained. It’s the second trial for Rubashkin, who awaits sentencing in a separate federal financial fraud case that followed the raid at the former Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville.

Mendoza began crying while testifying about the raid and the arrest of her boyfriend and other workers.

“I don’t want to remember it,” she told prosecutors through a translator.

She testified she was 15 when she used false documents to get hired at the slaughterhouse. It was common knowledge that the plant hired minors, so she forged documents that gave her age as older, and plant officials never asked for any other identification to verify it, she said. When government inspectors came to the plant, underage workers were sent home, she said.

Mendoza and Rony Ordonez Capir, who was 16 when hired, said the work involved harsh chemicals that burned their eyes, hands and throats.

Ordonez said he cut meat using hooks and knives and washed down conveyor belts with bleach and chlorine. Mendoza testified she measured the temperature of meat packaged with dry ice.… Read the rest

Agriprocessors child-labor trial starts this week

By GRANT SCHULTE • gschulte@… • May 3, 2010

Immigrants who were allegedly exposed to poisonous chemicals and dangerous machinery as minors will testify against their former bosses at Agriprocessors Inc. in a state child-labor trial that begins this week in Waterloo.

The trial is the latest chapter in the two-year saga of Sholom Rubashkin and his former eastern Iowa kosher slaughterhouse. Prosecutors allege that Rubashkin, 50, and other top managers allowed underage workers to perform risky jobs and work excessive hours at the plant in violation of state law.

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Rise of reality TV spurs look into state’s child labor laws

From The Montgomery News (Penn) -By Jesse Reilly Staff Writer

With the number of television and movie productions increasing in Pennsylvania the state’s House Republican Policy Committee held a public hearing at the Blair Mill Inn in Horsham Wednesday to begin the process of possibly updating the Keystone State’s child labor laws.

“According to the Internet Movie Database, 922 productions took place in Pennsylvania from 2002 to 2008,” state Rep. Stanley Saylor, chairman of the committee, said, adding that knowing that the industry is growing the committee was hoping to determine if the state’s laws are adequate, if they are being enforced and what needs to be done to strengthen them.

The staggering rise of reality television shows also energized the need for change, state Rep. Tom Murt said. Read more