Entries by Reid Maki

Child Labor Personal Experience: Growing Up in the Fields

by Jacqueline Aguilar, Child Labor Coalition intern   I grew up in a small rural area named Center, Colorado which has a population of about 2,000 people. Growing up my parents were always working in the fields, I remember my father coming home from work, and I would feel how raspy his hands were on my face. I would always ask myself, “Why are his hands so rough?” Eventually, I realized it was because of the hard work he did every day. In middle school, buying school clothes was difficult for my parents. I started working in the lettuce fields at the age of eleven with many of my friends. We would go in at 5:00 am and get out around 2:00 pm, my parents couldn’t take me to work because they had their own job to get to, so I would have to catch a ride with my supervisor at 4:30am and get home around 3:00 pm. Walking down those lettuce fields was draining physically, and mentally. It consisted of tired feet walking down the field with my blistered hands holding a bulky hoe and keeping an eye out on the lettuce heads making sure they grew the right way. Most days would start with the fields cold and wet with dew. I was often drenched in mud. By […]

Amazing, must-listen podcast….“Why Are States Loosening Child Labor Laws?” –New York Times child labor reporter Hannah Dreier and the CLC’s Norma Flores López on Roy Woods Jr. video podcast, “Beyond the Scenes – The Daily Show”

Amazing, must-listen podcast….   “Why Are States Loosening Child Labor Laws?” —New York Times child labor reporter Hannah Dreier and the CLC’s Norma Flores López on Roy Woods Jr. video podcast, “Beyond the Scenes – The Daily Show”. [Recorded 4/23/23].  

Joint Letter by Humanity United, Child Labor Coalition, and Valued Partners: Urgent Action Needed to Protect Children from Labor Exploitation

May 1, 2023 As organizations working to address human trafficking and labor exploitation, we are appalled by the horrific conditions children experienced after fleeing to the United States for refuge. This series in the New York Times demonstrates our government’s inability, unwillingness, or outright refusal to protect minors from forced labor. This most recent story reveals that the federal government failed to act on multiple warnings and reports about migrant children being forced to work illegal shifts in auto factories, food packing plants, construction sites, and other poorly-regulated jobs. The Times reports that despite hundreds of calls reporting incidents of abuse, neglect, or trafficking, thousands of migrant children have been forced to work illegally within the U.S. The Biden Administration reportedly “treated these as discrete events, not as signs of a mounting problem.” Other recent stories, including the Department of Labor’s own statements, reveal that this is a mounting problem, and one that needs urgent action. Earlier this year, the Labor Department reported that it had seen a nearly 70 percent increase in child labor violations over the last five years, and that in the most recent fiscal year, more than 800 companies were found to have broken child labor laws. Across the globe, businesses capitalize on migrant workers’ vulnerability, specifically targeting them for exploitation. Migrant workers already face language, […]

Iowa’s Child Labor Bill Turns Priorities Upside Down

By Mike Owen, Common Good Iowa Posted on February 9, 2023 at 12:01 PM by Mike Owen A new proposal in the Iowa Legislature turns Iowa priorities and values upside down. At a time we are doing too little for economic opportunity for children and their families, lawmakers are looking to relax protection for minors in the workplace as an excuse to meet a workforce shortage. The bill, Senate File 167 is one more step down a low road that lets employers off the hook for low wages, and this Legislature off the hook for already poor workplace protections. Worse, it puts young people at risk. Common Good Iowa is registered against the bill, which today passed a Senate subcommittee. For our young people, we should aspire to more than making them tools or pawns in a workforce strategy that will most certainly fail. If we want more people in the workforce, we need to pay them and to protect them. We need to assure them critical access to child care, and to crack down on wage theft. This bill fails on each count. Putting kids to work at longer hours and in potentially risky work assignments isn’t a real answer for a workforce shortage, and it’s rarely going to be an answer for young people as they proceed toward […]

Do Children in America Ever Work in Deplorable, Dangerous, Dickensian Conditions?  The Short Answer is “Yes” — The Child Labor Coalition’s Top Ten U.S. Child Labor Developments in 2022

By Reid Maki, Child Labor Coalition   Most Americans are unaware that the U.S. still has child labor, but 2022 made it abundantly clear that we do, and stories in the news exposed conditions that were often downright shocking. Here are 10 child labor stories or developments that indicate child labor in the U.S. is not something in the past and continues to be a serious concern. The  Child Labor Coalition brings together 39 groups to work collectively to reduce international and domestic child labor and to protect working teens from occupational dangers. Our top 2022 U.S. developments: Minors found working illegally in Brazilian-owned JBS meatpacking facilities in Nebraska and Minnesota. Several children suffered caustic chemical burns, including one 13-year-old. The children worked on the killing floor in cleaning crews, toiling long nights in the graveyard shift and used dangerous pressure-washing hoses while they stood in water mixed with animal parts. Initially, the number of children numbered 31 in Nebraska and Minnesota, but U.S. DOL has suggested the number of illegally employed teens in processing plant cleaning crews may be much larger. The CLC has expressed concerns about teens illegally working in meat processing plants since a large immigration raid in Iowa in 2003 found 50 minors working illegally in the plant. Teens found working in an Alabama factory that […]

Reflections on the “5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour” in Durban, South Africa, May 15-20, 2022

The recently-concluded, week-long “5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour” in Durban, South Africa was convened against the backdrop of the announcement last July of an alarming rise in child labor numbers after two decades of steady and significant declines in global child labor totals. The global conference, which typically comes about every four years, brought together an estimated 1,000 delegates from foreign governments and small number of representatives of NGOs. It also brought together for the first time at one of the quadrennial child labor conferences, dozens of participant youth advocates as well as a number of child labor victims and survivors. The conference had the difficult mission of righting the ship and trying to reverse the rising child labor numbers, which seem destined to rise further as the COVID pandemic’s impact will continue to be felt for years. Sadly, the pandemic threw 1.6 million children out of school, often for prolonged periods and some of those children entered work and may never return to school. We would first like to thank the South Africa government for the herculean task of organizing a global conference during a still raging pandemic, all against a backdrop of devastating floods in April that savaged the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Easter Cape and killed nearly 500 people, destroyed 4,000 homes and […]

Press Release: Child Labor Coalition Welcomes the Reintroduction of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety 2022 (CARE Act)

For immediate release: March 31, 2022 Contact: Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820, reidm@nclnet.org Washington, D.C.—The Child Labor Coalition (CLC), representing 38 groups engaged in the fight against domestic and global child labor, applauds Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) for introducing the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE). The legislation, introduced on Cesar Chavez Day, would close long-standing loopholes that permit children in agriculture to work for wages when they are only age 12. The bill would also ban jobs on farms labeled “hazardous” by the U.S. Department of Labor if workers are under the age of 18. The children of farm owners, working on their parents’ farms, would not be impacted by the CARE Act.   “Today, I am re-introducing the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE Act) with my friend and co-lead Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva to protect the rights, safety, and future of [children who work on farms],” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, Thursday.    “I’m proud to co-lead this important legislation with Rep. Roybal-Allard to protect the children of farmworkers. Farmworkers remain some of the most exploited, underpaid, and unprotected laborers in our nation. They and their children deserve legal protections, better working conditions, and higher workplace standards to protect their health and safety. It’s past time we updated our antiquated labor laws to […]