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187 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.]

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 reidm@nclnet.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

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

The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act) would help protect child farmworkers

Child farmworker Greccia Balli. Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

Grecia Balli began working in farm fields when she was 10 years old. At age 14, she decided to drop out of school because her life as a migrant farmworker caused her to switch schools frequently, making it difficult for her to keep up academically. By age 17 she no longer dreamed of becoming a police officer, which had been her goal. Her life revolved around farm work.

Grecia is one of an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 children who work in U.S. agriculture. Interviewed for “Fingers to the Bone,” a film by U. Roberto Romano and Human Rights Watch, Grecia said she felt as though she had no choices as a farmworker. “You don’t feel the same as other kids.”

Child farmworkers aren’t treated the same as other children, either, under current U.S. labor laws. Seventy-five years after its passage, the antiquated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 continues to regulate child labor, but fails to provide children performing agricultural work with protections equal to those afforded other children. The FLSA restricts children younger than 16 years from working for more than three hours on a school day, but a loophole for the agricultural sector means children as young as 12 can legally work unlimited hours on farms before or after school, and children of any age can work on small farms, with their parents’ permission. Children 14 and older can work on any farm, without parental consent. Child agricultural workers are also permitted to perform hazardous work at age 16, while hazardous work is strictly reserved for adults in all other sectors.

Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries and the most dangerous for children, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. “Children working for wages on farms are exposed to many hazards—farm machinery, heat stroke, and pesticides among them—and they perform back-breaking labor that no child should have to experience,” says Child Labor Coalition (CLC) Co-Chair Sally Greenberg, the executive director of the National Consumers League, a consumer advocacy organization that has worked to eliminate abusive child labor since its founding in 1899. “Child farmworkers deserve the same protections that all other American kids enjoy.”

As Grecia’s story illustrates, schooling is also negatively impacted when children labor in agriculture. Many of them leave school before the term ends and return after it has begun. This can lead to academic difficulties. American Federation of Teachers Secretary-Treasurer and CLC Co-Chair Lorretta Johnson notes, “Fifty percent of children who regularly work on farms will not graduate from high school.” Child farmworkers have four times the national rate of school drop-out.

For more than a decade, the CLC has endeavored to address the issue of child agricultural labor and is working to help pass the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), HR 2234, federal legislation re-introduced on June 12, 2013, by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) to amend the FLSA.

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107 Groups Endorse the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), which would extend child labor protections to many children working in U.S. agriculture.

The Children’s Act for

Responsible Employment

[CARE has been reintroduced as H.R. 2234 in the current session of Congress]

The CARE Act  has been endorsed by the following 107 organizations:

  • Action for Children North Carolina;
  • AFL-CIO;
  • Alliance for Justice;
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee;
  • American Association of University Women;
  • American Federation of Teachers;
  • American Rights at Work;
  • America’s Promise Alliance;
  • Amnesty International USA;
  • Asian American Justice Center;
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance;
  • Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs;
  • Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers  International Union;
  • Bon Appétit Management Company;
  • California Human Development;
  • California Institute for Rural Studies;
  • California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation;
  • Calvert Group Ltd.;
  • Center for Community Change;
  • Change to Win;
  • Child Labor Coalition;
  • Coalition of Immokalee Workers;
  • Coalition of Labor Union Women;
  • Children’s Alliance, Washington State;
  • Communications Workers of America;
  • Covenant with North Carolina’s Children;
  • Dialogue on Diversity;
  • East Coast Migrant Head Start Project;
  • El Centro Latino of Western North Carolina;
  • Farmworker Advocacy Network [North Carolina];
  • Farm Labor Organizing Committee;
  • Farmworker Association of Florida;
  • Farmworker Justice;
  • First Focus Campaign for Children;
  • Food Chain Workers Alliance;
  • Galen Films;
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network;
  • General Federation of Women’s Clubs;
  • Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities;
  • Hispanic Federation;
  • Honest Tea;
  • Human Rights Watch;
  • Interfaith Worker Justice;
  • International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers;
  • International Brotherhood of the Teamsters;
  • International Initiative to End Child Labor;
  • International Labor Rights Forum;
  • Kentucky Youth Advocates;
  • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement;
  • Laborers’ International Union of North America;
  • La Fe Policy Research & Education Center of San Antonio;
  • Laredo, Texas (City Council)
  • Latino Advocacy Council of Western North Carolina;
  • Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • League of United Latin American Citizens;
  • Legal Momentum (formally the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund);
  • MAFO (The National Partnership of Rural and Farmworker Organizations);
  • Maine Children’s Alliance;
  • MALDEF—Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund;
  • MANA, A National Latina Organization;
  • Media Voices for Children;
  • Migrant Clinician’s Network;
  • Migrant Legal Action Program;
  • MomsRising;
  • NAACP;
  • National Consumers League;
  • National Education Association;
  • National Employment Law Project;
  • National Farmworker Alliance;
  • National Farm Worker Ministry;
  • National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth;
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates;
  • National Association of State Directors of Migrant Education;
  • National Collaboration for Youth;
  • National Foster Care Coalition;
  • National Hispanic Medical Association;
  • National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association;
  • National Organization for Women;
  • National Parent Teacher Association (PTA);
  • NCLR (National Council of La Raza);
  • North Carolina Council of Churches;
  • North Carolina Justice Center;
  • Oregon Human Development Corporation;
  • Oxfam America;
  • PathStone;
  • PCUN—Pineros y Campesinos  del Noroeste (Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers)
  • Pesticide Action Network North America;
  • Pesticide Education Center;
  • Pesticide Watch;
  • Pride at Work;
  • Public Education Network;
  • Ramsay Merriam Fund;
  • Results;
  • Robert F.
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More progress needed to reduce child labor; Urgent action required on Uzbekistan, Domestic Workers Convention, and U.S. farmworker children

Child Labor Coalition Press Release/For release: June 10, 2011

Washington, DC—As World Day Against Child Labor on June 12 approaches, the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) is alerting the public that more than 200 million children still toil around the world, often in dangerous jobs that threaten their health, safety, and education.

Here in the United States, the CLC is applauding the anticipated re-introduction of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), which Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) plans to sponsor once again next week. The legislation would close loopholes that permit the children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers to work for wages when they are only 12 and 13 years old, often in harsh conditions—10- to 12-hour days of bending over and performing repetitive tasks in 90- to 100-degree heat.

“It’s time to level the playing field by closing these loopholes, which go all the way back to 1938, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was introduced,” said CLC Co-Chair Sally Greenberg, the Executive Director of the National Consumers League, a consumer advocacy organization that has worked to eliminate abusive child labor since its founding in 1899. “We must offer these children the same protections that all other American kids enjoy.”

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