Tag Archive for: US


Sudan: Country Dismisses U.S. Report on Human Rights Violation

[from AllAfrica.com]

Juba — The government of South Sudan has strongly denounced the US department of states report on human rights on the country and instead reiterated its commitment to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens in the word’s newest nation.

A report released by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Right and Labor pins documents a series of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and other inhumane treatment of civilians that allegedly occurred in South Sudan between January to December 2011.

Approximately 250,000 people, it says, were displaced as a result of the conflict reportedly emanating from fighting between South Sudan army (SPLA) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), clashes with renegade militia groups or cattle-related disputes among communities. Read more


Donna Ballman: Why Repealing Child Labor Laws Is a Truly Stupid Idea


By Donna Ballman

Did you hear the one where the Republican contender for president said we ought to repeal child labor laws? Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but if you weren’t paying attention due to all the holiday parties, you might have missed Newt Gingrich’s comments on the subject. He said that child labor laws are “truly stupid.” He wants poor 10-year-olds to become school janitors.

As the mother of a 10-year-old, Mr. Gingrich’s comments have been weighing on me. I had to speak up. Talk like this might get some headlines and votes, but it’s shortsighted to even think about abolishing child labor laws.

Anyone who is thinking that this proposal is anything but idiotic needs a little history lesson:
In the beginning of the industrial age, factory owners figured out that the machines were so simple, even a child could operate them. Children were less likely to push for those pesky unions. So poor children were sent to work in factories with dangerous equipment. Children would work 12 to 18 hours a day, six days a week, to earn a dollar. Factories were creative in ways to keep the “young imps” inside, using barbed wire and locked fire exits. Children would do dangerous jobs like carrying hot glass, working in coal mines, hauling heavy loads, and working in textile mills. Read more


California tells Apple, Others not to use Slaves

This isn’t a repeat from the 19th century

| by Nick Farrell in Rome | Filed in Business Apple California

California has introduced a law requiring Apple and thousands of others to make sure that slave labour isn’t part of the supply chain.

According to Reuters,  the law was written following allegations that Apple and Gap used forced labour to create their products.

The law will force manufacturers to explain how they guard against slavery and human trafficking throughout their supply chain. More than 3,200 major companies which do business in California  will be required to disclose steps they take, if any, to ensure their suppliers and partners do not use forced labour.

Companies will risk getting sued by the state attorney general if they flout that law.

Apple declined to comment on the new legislation but the law comes after controversy about working conditions at huge supplier Foxconn, where there were a string of suicides.

However, it’s not clear how this law could cause Apple much trouble as the last we heard, none of the workers at Foxconn were actually forced to work there.

Apparently the law defines child labour and slavery as forced labour. Apple had some problems with some of its suppliers using child labour, but said that it sorted that out. Read more


U.S. to support Peru in fight against Child Labor

By Manuel Vigo [from LivinginPeru.com]

On Tuesday the U.S Department of Labor awarded a $13 million grant in support of NGOs that fight against child labor in Peru.

The 4-year program will be carried out in Huancavelica, Junin and Pasco, and will target 6,500 children working in agriculture and other sectors in rural Peru, said the press release.

NGO ‘Desarrollo y Autogestión’ (DYA) will lead an international group of NGOs in the fight against exploitative child labor in Peru. Read more


Risky Decision: Young Immigrants Sometimes Must Choose Between Work and School

BY John Cox Californian staff writer 

Armando Ramirez was about 14 years old when he left his home in southern Mexico to find work in California.

First he and his 20-year-old brother went to Salinas to apply for a job harvesting broccoli alongside their mother. But while the older brother was hired, family members said, Armando was turned down on account of his age.

About a year ago, the brothers moved to the Arvin-Lamont area. And that’s where Armando found the composting job that took his life.

Although his work papers said he was 30 at the time of his death on Oct. 12, Armando was only 16.

His case highlights the plight of immigrants who come to the United States as minors not to get an education — some have no idea of a diploma’s value — but because family poverty forces them into an illegal arrangement sometimes condoned with a wink and a nod. Read more


Meet the Child Workers Who Pick Your Food

—By Tom Philpott [Mother Jones]

Agriculture tends to cling to certain practices long after the rest of society as discarded them as morally repugnant.

You might think slavery ended after the Civil War, yet it exists to this day in Florida’s tomato fields, as Barry Estabrook demonstrates in his brilliant book Tomatoland .Likewise, the practice of subjecting children to hard, hazardous, and low-paid labor seems like a discarded relic of Dickens’ London or Gilded Age New York. But here in the United States, hundreds of thousands of kids are doing one of our most dangerous jobs: farm work. They toil under conditions so rough that Human Rights Watch (HRW) has seen fit two issue two damning reports (here and here) on the topic over the past decade.

In the second report, from May 2010, the group concluded: “Shockingly, we found that conditions for child farmworkers in the United States remain virtually as they were a decade ago.” This is to say – appalling. The kids who pick our crops are routinely exposed to toxic pesticides, their fatality rate is four times that of other working youth, and they are four times more likely to drop out than the average American kid—overall, HRW reports, just a third of farmworker kids finish high school.

Oddly, there’s nothing illegal about their plight—most federal laws governing child labor don’t apply to farms, according to HRW; the US government spends $26 million fighting abusive child labor in other countries, but has failed to bring the fight to America’s fields.

The Harvest/La Cosecha, a new documentary directed by the veteran photographer and human rights advocate U. Roberto Romano, shines a bright light on this murky corner of the agribusiness universe. The film traces the lives of three teenagers and their families as they move across the US following the harvest, from Texas onion fields to Michigan apple groves and places in between.

I was lucky enough to attend a one-off showing at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, California, one of the nation’s last great cinema temples. Romano’s work is worthy of the big screen—he has a great eye for the spare, monotonous beauty of monocropped fields baking in the sun. We get wide views of them, and their vast expanse seems on the verge of swallowing the kids whole as they pluck fruit after fruit. At other times Romano’s lens zooms in to show the field from the kids’ perspective: the rows that seem to stretch away to the horizon.

Rather than wagging a finger, Romano lets the kids and the families speak for themselves. We see them cooking dinner, squabbling, dealing with the wrenching act of packing up and moving on for the millionth time. They then take to the road in stuffed, beat-up trucks, in pursuit of the next harvest.

The featured kids, two girls and a boy ranging from 12 to 14 years old, are bright and articulate. They’re smart enough to realize they’re getting a raw deal, that their itinerant lives are harder and more complicated than those of the classmates they’re always being wrenched away from at school. Their parents, hyper-focused on keeping the family fed and whole, yet breaking down physically from the rigors of the field, offer a future their children can neither embrace nor easily escape.

As one of the girls, 14-year-old Perla Sanchez, tells Romano, we can’t study and graduate high school because we have to work—and we have to work in the fields because we’re not properly educated.

It’s a vicious cycle, and the film offers no way out. And really, there is no way easy way out—without out a high-school diploma, the farm kids face abysmal job prospects in the best of times, let alone the current job market. The kids in the film are right: They’ve been dealt the hand of poverty.

The only way to give them a fair shake is to improve pay for farm workers. None of the families depicted in The Harvest, as  the film makes clear, would subject their kids to lives of field labor if they weren’t desperate for money. A generation is being sacrificed to feed us cheaply, and it’s about time someone paid attention.

Here’s the trailer. You can catch The Harvest online at EpixHD.com.


Washington Berry Farms Fined for Hiring Kids 6 and Up

By Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Labor Department has fined three Washington state strawberry farms a total of $73,000 for employing children as young as 6 years old as pickers.

The department’s Portland, Ore., office says Thursday the violations include failing to maintain proof-of-age records and pay minimum wage. A total of nine underage workers were found during a child labor investigation in June at farms in Woodland, Wash., and Ridgefield, Wash.

The department says all three employers removed the underage workers and agreed to attend wage and hour training for the next three years.

Information from: The Daily News, https://www.tdn.com


Woodland Berry Farm Fined for using Child Labor

By Marqise Allen / The Daily News 

Owners of a Woodland berry farm were fined $16,000 for employing two children under the age of eleven by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Columbia Fruit LLC was caught using child labor during a weekend investigation June 25, according to agency officials. This is the company’s first violation discovered by the Department of Labor.

“Agricultural employment is particularly dangerous for children, and the rules of their employment must be followed,” said Jeff Genkos, director of the federal Wage and Hour Division’s Portland District Office.

Representatives from Columbia Fruit did not return phone calls for comment.

Under Washington law, restrictions are placed on employees aged 12 to 15. Genkos said child labor violations are not a common occurrence in Southwest Washington. However, two berry farms in Ridgefield were also cited for using underage workers. One of the children at the farms was 6 years old.

The agency is expected to ramp up weekend investigations and prohibit farms from shipping berries that were picked using child labor to curb future violations.

Repeat offenders can face larger monetary penalties, Genkos said.

Read more: https://tdn.com/news/local/31aa961c-befd-11e0-9e0b-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1UBUN2uxb


Retailers such as Nike and Macy’s Boycott Cotton from Uzbekistan to Protest Child Labor



Daniel Acker

Retailers including Walmart and Macy’s have signed a pledge to not use cotton from Uzbekistan until the country stops using forced child labor.

Retailers are going crazy for cotton — but not in a good way.

Superstores Walmart and Macy’s have joined up with  such big names  as Liz Claiborne, Nike, Eileen Fisher and Nautica to sign a pledge boycotting the use of cotton from Uzbekistan, WWD reported.

They are among the first companies to team up with the nonprofit group Responsible Sourcing Network to demand that the country stop using forced child labor to harvest its cotton crop. Read more


How U.S. Budget Cuts Prolong Global Slavery

By E. Benjamin Skinner
NY Times

Three days before the U.S. congressional elections last fall, Hillary Clinton stood halfway around the world from Washington, pledging to young victims of human trafficking at Cambodia’s Siem Reap Center that they would continue to enjoy the support of the U.S. State Department, which then provided some $336,000 to the shelter. The acclaimed center, situated near the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat, was an oasis of peace for some 50 survivors who, before they were rescued or escaped, had endured slavery in brothels, where they were forced to have sex with as many as 30 men a day. At the shelter, they received counseling, studied hairdressing, learned to sew, and otherwise worked to rebuild their lives and reclaim their humanity. In the evenings, they did aerobics together.

On Monday afternoon, some eight months after that visit, as she unveiled the State Department’s 11th annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report to a packed room in the department’s ornate Benjamin Franklin Room, Clinton only hinted that the result of the congressional elections had left in doubt the long-term value of her pledge to the survivors. “Even in these tight economic times, we need to find ways to do better,” Clinton told the overflowing crowd. (Watch “Nepal: Escaped from the Sex Trade, Unable to Go Home.”) Read more