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Longoria and Colbert Highlight the Plight of Farmworker Adults and Children

America’s farmworkers are mostly invisible these days. The men, women, and children who pick our fruit and vegetables go largely ignored by the public and Congress, which has failed to update the Fair Labor Standards Act leaving farmworkers mostly unprotected from workplace abuses.  This September, however, two celebrities—Eva Longoria and Stephen Colbert—traveled to Capitol Hill in an effort to shine a much-needed spotlight on the plight of farmworkers.

Eva Longoria is producing "The Harvest." Rep. Lucille-Roybal Allard looks on. (Photo by Meriel Shire, AFOP)

On September 15, Longoria, a cast member from the television hit Desperate Housewives, appeared at an informal briefing in the Rayburn House Office Building to promote “The Harvest”,  a documentary she is producing about child labor in agriculture.  Longoria and filmmaker Robin Romano showed clips of child workers featured in the film, which will premier at the Sundance Film Festival. The Harvest follows kids as they migrate and perform back-breaking work that many adults will not do because it is too hard and the pay is too low.

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Tell Congressional Leaders It’s Time to Protect Farmworker Children–Pass the CARE Act Now

Help us protect migrant children by contacting your member of Congress today and urging them to pass the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment:

 

Summary of the Children’s Act for

Responsible Employment (CARE Act)

H.R. 2234

Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act) on June 16, 2011. The CARE Act addresses the inequities faced by the estimated 300,000 to 400,000 children currently employed in agriculture in the U.S.

The CARE Act:

  • Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) by bringing the age and work hours standards for children working in agriculture up to the standards set under FLSA for all other forms of child labor.

There is currently a loophole that permits children working in agriculture to work longer hours, at a younger age, and in more hazardous conditions than children working in other jobs. The FLSA currently allows children as young as 12 years of age to work in agriculture, while children in non-agricultural work must be at least 14 years of age (often, they must be 16 or older), and are limited to 3 hours of work a day outside of school hours while school is in session.

Farmworker youth can work an unlimited number of hours, as long as those hours are outside of school time. The CARE Act would eliminate these loopholes and require children to be a minimum of 14 to work for wages in agriculture. The Secretary of Labor would determine if specific agricultural jobs are safe for 14- and 15-year-olds to perform—as is done with all other industries.Read the rest

New York Times Highlights Plight of Farmworker Children

Efforts to protect farmworker children received a boost in June, 2010 when the NY Times front page featured an article on child labor in U.S. agriculture:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/19/us/19migrant.html?emc=eta1

An accompanying slide show can be found here:

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/06/19/us/20100619_BERRY.htmlRead the rest