Seven in 10 child laborers around the world work in agriculture. These children face many dangers from razor-sharp farm implements like machetes, knives, and scissors, from heavy equipment, and from the widespread use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

182 Organizations Endorse Legislation (CARE Act) to Close Child Labor Loopholes that Endanger the Health, Safety and Educational Development of Farmworker Children

The Child Labor Coalition is reaching out for organizational endorsements of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety, H.R. 3394, which would end exploitative child labor in U.S. agriculture. [This is the bill number in the 116th Congress. We expect the bill to be reintroduced soon in the 117th Congress.]

182 great groups have endorsed this much-needed legislation.

We ask organizations to help us advance this vital legislation which would remove the exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act that allow children to work unlimited hours in agriculture at the age of 12; these exemptions also allow child farmworkers to perform hazardous work at the age of 16. A text of the bill can be found here.

The educational impact of child labor on U.S. farmworker children has been devastating. We estimate that two out of three children who work in the fields drop out of school.

Rep. Roybal-Allard’s press release explains why there is an urgent need to protect farmworker children and how the bill accomplishes this.

Organizations that wish to add their names to the list of endorsers, please email reidm@nclnet.org .

The following 174 organizations have endorsed the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety:

The 182 groups below have endorsed the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety between 2019 and 2021:

 

Action for Children North Carolina
AFL-CIO
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
Alliance for Justice
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
American Federation of Teachers
American Medical Women’s Association
Amnesty International USA
Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW)
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, & Grain Millers  International Union
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, & Grain Millers  International Union, Local 351 (NM)
Bank Information Center
Beyond Borders
Beyond Pesticides
Bon Appétit Management Company
California Human Development
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities
CATA – Farmworkers’ Support Committee  (NJ, PA, MD)

Center for Childhood & Youth Studies, Salem State University  (MA)

Center for Human Rights of Children, Loyola University
Center for Progressive Reform
Centro de los Derechos del Migrante
Child Labor Coalition
Child Welfare League of America
Children’s Alliance (Washington State)
CLASP
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking̶̶—CAST
Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Coalition on Human Needs
Communications Workers of America
Community Farm Alliance
Corporate Accountability Lab
CREA: Center for Reflection, Education and Action
Delaware Ecumenical Council on Children and Families
Dialogue on Diversity
Earth Ethics
Earth Justice
East Coast Migrant Head Start Project
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry (North Carolina)
Fairtrade America
Fair World Project
Families USA
Farm Labor Organizing Committee
Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project (Illinois)
Farmworker Association of Florida
Farmworker Justice
Feminist Majority Foundation
First Focus Campaign for Children
Food and Water Action
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Food Empowerment Project
Food Policy Action Education Fund
Food Tank
Friends of the Earth
Futures Without Violence
General Federation of Women’s Clubs
Girls Inc.
Read the rest

CLC and Several Members Join 100 Organizations in Asking EPA to Immediately Ban the Pesticide Clorpyrifos which Damages Children’s Neurological Systems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 5, 2021

OPP Docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0850-0750 Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC) 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20460-0001

Subject: Letter Urging Expeditious Action to Ban Chlorpyrifos

The undersigned 101 farmworker, public health, environmental, labor, and faith organizations urge the EPA to immediately revoke all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and initiate the cancellation process to end all uses of this neurotoxic pesticide.

Chlorpyrifos, which belongs to a nerve-agent class of pesticides called organophosphates (OPs), is used on an extensive variety of crops and is acutely toxic and associated with neurodevelopmental harms in children. Yet, in its proposed interim registration review decision, the EPA is proposing to allow 11 food uses of chlorpyrifos to continue at the urging of industry.

Peer-reviewed studies and EPA’s own Scientific Advisory Panel have demonstrated that chlorpyrifos damages children’s brains; prenatal exposure to very low levels of chlorpyrifos — levels far lower than what EPA used to set regulatory limits — harms babies permanently. Studies show that exposure to chlorpyrifos, and other OP pesticides during pregnancy, is associated with lower birth weight, attention deficit disorders, autism spectrum disorder, reduced IQ, and loss of working memory.1 It is also unsafe for workers even with the most protective equipment.

In 2014, EPA released a risk assessment finding unsafe drinking water contamination from chlorpyrifos and it proposed to ban chlorpyrifos from food in 2015. In 2016, EPA released a revised human health risk assessment, which confirmed that exposures to chlorpyrifos are unsafe whether in food, pesticide drift, or drinking water; toddlers were being exposed to levels 140 times what is considered safe in food and all drinking water exposures were found to be unsafe. But in 2020, EPA released a new risk assessment, which abandoned attempts to protect children from the low-level exposures that damage their brains.

Under the law, EPA must find reasonable certainty of no harm to children from pesticides. It cannot make this finding for any use of chlorpyrifos on food. The only outcome that protects our children and complies with the law is to revoke all food tolerances and end all food uses as soon as possible. The 2015 proposed tolerance revocation would have prohibited chlorpyrifos on food six months after the rule became final. EPA should adhere to that timetable. 2

Ending use of chlorpyrifos on food will protect the farmworkers who grow that food. However, chlorpyrifos is also used in other ways that expose workers to extremely dangerous amounts of the pesticide. For example, chlorpyrifos is used in greenhouses on ornamental plants. The greenhouse workers face unconscionable risks. And under EPA’s 2020 risk assessment and proposed decision, the agency finds that the workers who mix and apply chlorpyrifos will face unsafe exposures from more than 100 tasks; workers who re-enter fields sprayed with chlorpyrifos will be at risk as well.

The EPA is proposing to allow these risks to continue because of the economic benefits of using chlorpyrifos compared to other currently available chemical pesticide alternatives. In making this proposal, EPA is ignoring non-chemical methods of pest control as well as the economic costs and hardships caused by pesticide poisonings, learning disabilities, reduced IQ in children, and environmental harm from chlorpyrifos use; this pesticide also contaminates surface water and harms threatened and endangered species, including birds, Pacific salmon, Southern Resident Killer Whales, and other mammals.

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It’s Time for U.S. Tobacco Companies to Protect All Child Tobacco Workers with a Complete Ban on Children in Tobacco Fields

By Reid Maki, Child Labor Coalition

In 2014, under pressure from advocacy groups like the Child Labor Coalition and Human Rights Watch (HRW) concerned about hazardous child labor on tobacco farms, several tobacco companies operating in the U.S. announced they would only buy tobacco from growers who agree not to hire children under 16 to work in contact with tobacco plants.

Child rights and human rights groups had been pushing for a ban on all children – aged 17 and below – from harvesting tobacco because of health problems related to nicotine exposure. These negative health impacts were well-documented in Tobacco’s Hidden Children, a report from HRW published in May 2014.

“Children interviewed by Human Rights Watch in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia frequently described feeling seriously, acutely sick, while working in tobacco farming,” noted HRW.  Carla P., 16, who worked for hire on tobacco farms in Kentucky with her parents and her younger sister told Human Rights Watch she got sick while pulling the tops off tobacco plants: “I didn’t feel well, but I still kept working. I started throwing up. I was throwing up for like 10 minutes, just what I ate. I took a break for a few hours, and then I went back to work.’

Another child worker interviewed by HRW, Emilio R., a 16-year-old seasonal worker in eastern North Carolina, said he had headaches that sometimes lasted up to two days while working in tobacco: “With the headaches, it was hard to do anything at all.… Read the rest

Children Working in Terrifying Conditions in US Agriculture — New Research Shows Child Farmworkers Unprepared for Workplace Dangers

By Margaret Wurth

Senior Researcher, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Margaret Wurth, HRW

New research published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reinforces just how dangerous agricultural work is for children in the United States – and how unprepared most are for what they face in the fields.

More US child workers die in agriculture than in any other industry. Every day, 33 children are injured while working on US farms. And they receive frighteningly little safety training, making their work in demanding environments even more dangerous.

Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine interviewed 30 child farmworkers, ages 10 to 17, and published their findings in two articles that describe how children are pressured to work quickly, with little control over their hours or the nature of their work.

“Sofia,” a 17-year-old tobacco worker, in a tobacco field in North Carolina. She started working at 13, and she said her mother was the only one who taught her how to protect herself in the fields: “None of my bosses or contractors or crew leaders have ever told us anything about pesticides and how we can protect ourselves from them….When I worked with my mom, she would take care of me, and she would like always make sure I was okay.…Our bosses don’t give us anything except for our checks. That’s it.” © 2015 Benedict Evans for Human Rights Watch.

 

The children interviewed feared having their pay docked or being fired if they couldn’t keep up.

They received little – if any – safety training. One 14-year-old worker said: “When you’re chopping with the machete, they say, ‘Oh, be careful, like, to not hurt yourself,’ but that’s basically it.”

Children I’ve interviewed for Human Rights Watch investigations of child labor in US tobacco farming had similar experiences, working long hours in extreme heat with virtually no safety training.

One 15-year-old child worker told me his mom – also a farmworker – was hospitalized after being sprayed with pesticides, but even then, his employer never told him how protect himself: “He just said, ‘Be careful.’ That’s all.”

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