In Viewpoint, we bring your attention to what we feel are the most pressing issues of the day, as well as bringing you up to date with what is going on with the Child Labor Coalition.
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.]
187 great national, regional, and state-based 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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
The 187 groups below have endorsed the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety between 2019 and 2021:
Action for Children North Carolina
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
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)
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
East Coast Migrant Head Start Project
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry (North Carolina)
Fair World Project
Farm Labor Organizing Committee
Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project (Illinois)
Farmworker Association of Florida
Feminist Majority Foundation
First Focus Campaign for Children
Food and Water Action
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Food Empowerment Project
Food Policy Action Education Fund
Friends of the Earth
Futures Without Violence
General Federation of Women’s Clubs
Girls Inc.… Read the rest
By Katarzyna Rybarczyk
Most people use products containing mica daily, without realizing what the story behind their production is. Mica is a mineral commonly found in products such as cosmetics, paints, and electronics. For most people living in the West, mica is simply something that makes these products shiny. However, extracting mica is often linked to the worst forms of child labor.
India and Madagascar are the two largest exporters of sheet mica globally, with most mica mining happening in illegal mines. The two countries are also the most associated with using children to extract the mineral.
Areas where mica mines are located struggle with high poverty rates, so mining mica is often the only thing that lets families put food on the table and survive. With families struggling to earn a living, children often have to supplement their parents’ income.
As mica mining is unregulated and, for the most part, thrives in hiding, there are many dangers associated with it.
The scale of the problem
The majority of illegal mica mines in India are located in just two states Bihar and Jharkhand, which are among India’s most impoverished. The governance there is weak, so the industry is subject to few, if any, regulations and labor exploitation of both adults and children occurs frequently.
It is estimated that 22,000 children work in mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar, but as mines that employ children do not report it, giving the exact numbers is impossible.
Alarmingly, these numbers pre-date the Covid-19 pandemic, which is forcing even more children into exploitative and dangerous child labor. Human Rights Watch, Friends of the Nation, and the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights recently interviewed dozens of children in Ghana, Nepal, and Uganda to document the impact of the pandemic on their lives. They told us how their parents lost jobs when businesses closed, couldn’t get to markets to sell their goods, or lost customers during lockdowns. Their schools closed, and with little or no government assistance, the children felt they had no choice but to work to help their families survive.The children worked at brick kilns, carpet factories, gold mines, stone quarries, fisheries, in construction, and in agriculture. Others sold food or goods on the street. They described working long hours for meager wages, often under dangerous conditions. One 12-year-old girl crushed rocks at a stone quarry for seven hours a day.
National Consumers League
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All Content Copyright the Child Labor Coalition, site photos courtesy of Robin Romano
CLC members—the Ramsay Merriam Fund, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association—made this web site possible through their generous support.