Entries by CLC Member

Child Labor Programs in Grave Danger

Despite great progress in reducing child labor, Congress is very close to cutting all of the Department of Labor’s funding for child labor grant programs. Both the House and Senate have proposed cuts in their budgets and advocates have responded loudly. Over the last 5 months advocates have sent emails to every Member of Congress telling them about the importance of these programs. We are now at a critical moment. Congress must agree on a budget before December 11th to avoid a government shutdown. The next couple of weeks are critical for the U.S. fight to end child labor. The final decisions around funding for the federal government for the coming year are being made right now and we need your voices more than ever in the fight to restore funding to protect children from harmful and exploitative child labor.  These decisions now rest with the highest levels of leadership in Congress and we need you to join us in contacting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in particular to let him know that we will not accept cuts to crucial programs that protect children.  What might take you just 30 seconds, could mean all the difference in the life of a child! Please use the following script to contact Senator McConnell (202-224-3135) : I’m calling Senator McConnell to express my concern […]

Action Needed: Help Us Save the Progress on Child Labor that Has Been Made

[An important blog from CLC-member World Vision. A call to action appears further below]: Action needed: An update from Cambodia on the fight against child labor. We want to say thank you to our advocates. In addition to making phone calls and having meetings, you have sent over 15,000 emails to members of Congress asking that funding be restored to the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) for programs that help fight child labor. We are down to the eleventh hour for these programs — we now need your help to thank the champions as well as help remind key decision makers that these types of cuts will not go unnoticed.  You are the reason Congress is still talking about theses programs, the reason these cuts have not gone unheeded. Jessica Bousquette shares from her recent trip to Cambodia, where she saw the positive effects of ILAB programs to help prevent child labor first hand. Then we share the two things you can do — in less than two minutes — to continue the fight for these programs. Your two minutes could change the life of a child. By Jessica Bousquette Around the houses perched on stilts, green rice shoots swayed gently in the wind and cars raced up the dirt road.  We sat on a blue tarp in a community near Siem Reap, a tourist hotspot in […]

Artwork and Essays from Migrant Children Who Toil in U.S. Agriculture

by Madeline Daniels, First Focus Campaign for Children “It’s a summer day, the sun is rising, and the sound of my mother’s cooking awakes me. Her meal will be enough to get us through the day that awaits us. One would think this was about a child that awakes to her mother’s cooking to go to school like any other ordinary child, but that isn’t the case here. My life is much more complex, even to this day. I live day by day struggling to get past each month with my family. Working in the fields is all we know, it’s all we think we’re good at, it’s what we do to survive.” Zulema Lopez is a 17-year-old, fourth-generation migrant farmworker, and one of the United States’ hundreds of thousands of agricultural child laborers. Instead of a school year punctuated by football games and dances, hers are defined by family moves and growing cycles: asparagus, then strawberries, then cucumbers, to apples. “Falling behind in my studies is the main problem that I face every time I move from state to state to work in the fields. For example, during my freshmen year I attended four high schools. I was devastated when my counselor advised me that I was lacking credits and that I was going to be a 2nd year […]

CLC-Member Human Rights Watch: No Virginia, Tobacco Fields are Not a Place for Children

By Zama Coursen-Neff, Human Rights Watch “Are you saying my parents were stupid?” From Virginia lawmaker Jonny Joannou, it seemed like a reasonable question. If working on the tobacco farm as a child was fine for many Virginians, why should the state ban it now? The moment came during a committee hearing of the Virginia House of Delegates I attended Tuesday on abill, introduced by Delegate Alfonso Lopez, that would make it illegal to hire children under 18 to work in direct contact with tobacco, unless the child’s parent or grandparent owned the farm. I was there to support the restrictions based on Human Rights Watch’s extensiveresearch on the topic. At the moment, the state’s child labor law, like federal law, exempts child farm workers from the protections enjoyed by all other children who work. Still, the lawmaker’s question is one I wrestle with. My grandfather grew up working on a farm in Texas, and my dad worked construction in Louisiana at age 12.Now I’m fighting to stop children from doing dangerous jobs, including on tobacco farms where they risk poisoning by nicotine and pesticides. Am I shaming my grandfather and the millions like him who have sent children to work? If Joannou had directed his question to me, this is what I would have said: I like to think our […]

CLC-Member the National Consumers League Condemns the Defeat of a Child Labor Bill in Virginia

For immediate release: February 4, 2015 Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League, benk@nclnet.org, (202) 835-3323 Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) is deeply disappointed in the defeat of a Virginia State Legislature bill that would have been the first of its kind to protect children from working in dangerous tobacco fields. “This takes us back a century ago when children in America were working in mines, factories, and mills. The reactionary forces fought protections for kids back then, just as they are doing today,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League (NCL) and co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which NCL co-founded 25 years ago.  “It’s just as intolerable to expose kids to these toxics today as it was in 1915.” The bill (HB 1906), introduced last month by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), was defeated yesterday in the Republican-controlled Committee on Commerce and Labor. HB 1906 would have made it illegal for children, other than the members of a farmer’s own family, from harvesting tobacco. Recent reports of children being sickened by acute nicotine poisoning in tobacco fields battling nausea, headaches, vomiting, and dizziness have sparked a national movement to ban this practice. “It is our obligation to protect our most vulnerable workers. It is very disappointing to see Virginia lawmakers cave to big tobacco interests and defeat […]

NATIONAL CONSUMERS LEAGUE PRESS RELEASE : Move to ban youth work in Virginia tobacco fields welcome by advocates

For immediate release: January 21, 2015 Contact: NCL Communications, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323, benk@nclnet.org Washington, DC—Last week’s introduction of a bill in the Virginia state legislature to prohibit children under the age of 18 from working in direct contact with tobacco is a hopeful sign in the continued fight to eradicate the practice of youth work in American tobacco fields. The bill, HB1906, was introduced by Delegate Alfonso Lopez (Democrat-Arlington) and would include an exemption for family farms. If passed, HB1906 would be the first legislation of its kind in a state that harvests tobacco. In Virginia, it would preempt some of the outdated Fair Labor Standards Act provisions that allow children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours on farms performing the dangerous work. “Children picking tobacco regularly suffer nicotine poisoning, toxic pesticide exposure, and work at dangerous heights,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League (NCL) and co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which NCL co-founded 25 years ago. “We are encouraged by Delegate Lopez’ introduction of HB1906, and we hope this is a sign of things to come. We urge Virginia lawmakers to support this bill, and other tobacco-producing states to follow suit to protect America’s most vulnerable workers—children in tobacco fields.” In the last year, advocates from NCL, the CLC, and its member organizations, have […]

Ending Child Slavery…All Together Now!

by Jill Christianson, National Education Association On a sunny day late in September, I tagged along on a lobbying visit to the Brazilian Embassy in Washington – led by Kailash Satyarthi, with colleagues from the Child Labor Coalition and the International Labor Rights Forum.  Following this fall’s swirl of activities at the UN General Assembly and a myriad of meetings about the Beyond-2015 plans (Sustainable Development Goals) including education, Kailash is focused on one thing…ENDING CHILD SLAVERY. Kailash Satyarthi – who is this year’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Malala, talked in that meeting about how language about ending child slavery can be inserted into the negotiations for the new goals.  He’s counting on governments taking the lead to act on behalf children who are trapped in slavery.  The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are around 5.5 million children who are enslaved.  This includes thousands of children in fisheries in Ghana, girl brides in Yemen, 6-year-olds who are Restaveks in Haiti, children weaving carpets in India, and the over 100,000 children who are sex trafficked in the United States.  Stories of ending slavery are impactful – we can make a difference. The educators of Maryland recently heard from survivors of trafficking (yes, a form of slavery) at the Maryland State Education Association Convention.  Survivor Evelyn Chumbow […]

GoodWeave’s Nina Smith on Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi–an engineer of freedom

[This article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor on October 21, 2014] By Nina Smith, GoodWeave International  My long-time friend, colleague, and mentor has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Kailash Satyarthi is a hero to many people, all of them certainly glad that this kind, original, and tenacious man has at last received such recognition. As my career has been devoted to advancing and realizing his ideas, I want to offer some insight into the individual who has driven the global movement to end child labor. Because of his work, we now know there are 168 million child laborers worldwide. They used to be invisible. Kailash started risking his life for these children more than 30 years ago, when he broke into Indian factories to emancipate them. Early footage of him doing this “raid and rescue” work showed the world that child slavery exists. Along with his wife, Sumedha, he helped those he rescued to recover and find their place in the world, and he put their stories on the global stage, shaming lawmakers and companies into acknowledging the systemic exploitation of children for economic gain. Kailash’s problem-solving approach sets him apart. He worked as an electrical engineer before he became a freedom fighter, and he draws on the critical, analytical thinking of his trade to advocate […]

Save the Children: Border Children Need Help Now

[The following op-ed appeared in USA Today on July 29th. To view it on USA Today’s page, click here.] Aid organizations can help, but the federal government must give us permission now. Rooms with concrete floors and walls, packed with children. The overpowering smell of sweat and urine. Guards who have to wear masks to deal with the stench. Toilets with little or no privacy. No showers or beds in sight. What I saw on a recent visit to a detention centeralong our border was children, many just five or six years old, essentially imprisoned. Vulnerable children separated from parents, susceptible to bullying and sickness, and held like criminals. They were exhausted, lonely, and dazed. I have been in many refugee camps throughout my career in global development, and this center rivals each of them. But this one is right here in the United States. Despite the rhetoric around immigration and the heated policy debate here in Washington, these are not criminals. They are innocent children caught up in a situation beyond their control. Regardless of why and how they came, they are here now — and they deserve to be treated with humanity. In the face of an influx of unaccompanied minors, Customs and Border Patrol and other agencies are understandably overwhelmed. Customs and Border Patrol is responsible for protecting our borders from those who are a threat to […]

NCL Expresses Grave Concern about Bolivia’s Decision to Lower the Age of Work to Ten

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization with a long history of fighting to improve child labor laws in the US and abroad, decries the decision last week by Bolivia to enact a new law that lowers the age of work from 14 to 10. “Ten-year-olds belong in school–not in mines, forests, and factories. Bolivia’s baffling action is a huge step backward and endangers the country’s 500,000 to 850,000 working children,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg, who is also the co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which NCL has co-chaired for 25 years. “In the last decade, the world has made remarkable progress in reducing abusive child labor by one-third, according to estimates by the International Labour Organization.” “Our great fear is that the health and safety of Bolivia’s many thousands of children in hazardous work–like mining–will be endangered as a larger number of children sent out to work by their families will be legally employed,” said Reid Maki, NCL’s Director of Child Labor Advocacy and the coordinator of the CLC. The US Department of Labor lists nuts, bricks, corn, gold, silver, sugarcane, tin and zinc as products produced with child labor in the country–children are already doing some of the most grueling work in the world in Bolivia.” “Bolivian government officials have […]