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1Top of Main Page

International Initiative to End Child Labor

Children in the Fields Campaign



Campaign Overview

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Campaign Parameters

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    Child labor only - focus on eliminating child labor in agriculture and improving child labor standards in agriculture among children who function as hired workers. 
       
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    Focus on entire agricultural industry - all aspects of production of fruit and vegetables (including preparation, harvesting and processing), livestock, fishing, and forestry.
      
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    Not focused at all on children who work for their parents on family farms.
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Campaign Focus

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Government Focus:

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    To improve labor laws, regulations, standards and conditions in the US and abroad for children and youth working as child laborers in agriculture.
      
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    To strengthen enforcement of protections for children working in the fields.
      
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    To utilize the "hot goods" provision, which has been successfully employed in the sweatshop issue, and apply to agricultural commodities.
      
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    To spur research through the EPA and other agencies to assess the risks children encounter in the fields from pesticides, machinery, etc. and to use the resulting data to improve protections for their health and safety.
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Consumer Focus:

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    To raise awareness of children working in the fields and its negative impact on their education, health & safety.
      
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    To mobilize consumers on this issue.
      
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    To seek a mechanism to help consumers in the marketplace who wish to buy fruits and vegetables harvested under decent conditions (i.e., no child labor, decent wages for adults, etc.).
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Industry Focus (employers and retailers):

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    To raise awareness and support among leading companies producing agricultural commodities and products.  
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    To gain grower and retailer support for a mechanism of independent inspections to assure consumers that agricultural commodities are produced under decent conditions (i.e., no child labor, decent wages for workers, etc.).
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Information on Child Labor in Agriculture

VRAIVRAIFAUXFAUXFAUX09/11/2002
2Bottom of Main Page

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Coordinating Organizations within the Child Labor Coalition:

International Initiative to End Child Labor
www.endchildlabor.org
mull@endchildlabor.org
1016 S. Wayne Street, Suite 702
Arlington, VA 22204
VOICE: (703) 920-0435
FAX: (703) 528-4145
112 Banks Avenue
Gastonia, NC 28056
VOICE: (703) 328-3401

National Consumers League
www.nationalconsumersleague.org
adkinsds@earthlink.net
1701 K. Street N.W., Suite 1200
Washington, D.C. 20006
VOICE: (202) 835-3323
FAX: (202) 835-0747


Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
www.afop.org
afop@afop.org
4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 410
Arlington, VA 22203
VOICE: (703) 528-4141
FAX: (703) 528-4145

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VRAIVRAIFAUXFAUXFAUX09/11/2002
10Child Labor in Cocoa Production - Press Release

News Release

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OPA News Release: [07/26/2002]
Contact Name: Bob Zachariasiewicz
Phone Number: (202) 693-4686

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Labor Department and USAID Release Data from Collaborative Survey on Child Labor on Cocoa Farms in West Africa

West African Governments and U.S. Chocolate Manufacturers Working Jointly with U.S. to Eliminate Problem

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Labor Department today released key findings that indicate that some 284,000 child laborers work in hazardous conditions on cocoa farms in West Africa, 200,000 of whom work in Côte d’Ivoire and most of whom work alongside their families. Such hazardous work includes spraying pesticides without personal protection and clearing undergrowth with machetes. There is also evidence that up to 2,500 child workers may have been trafficked for cocoa work in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

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Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs Tom Moorhead said, “These children are not only working in dangerous jobs, they are also losing the chance for an education. That’s a lose-lose proposition. But with this survey information we can better define the problem and in turn design a better program to address the problem. Most important is that the chocolate manufacturers and the West African governments have been working closely with us to eliminate exploitative child labor in the cocoa industry.”

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“Clearly poverty is the underlying cause for the child labor situation in West Africa,” noted Jim Gockowski, the researcher from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) who supervised the USAID-sponsored work.

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The survey is one of the first tasks of a public-private partnership, the Sustainable Tree Crops Program, which seeks to raise the income and quality of life in cocoa-producing communities. The new data will provide information for policy discussions and shape projects.

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The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and national research collaborators in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria conducted a set of surveys with the support of USAID and USDOL, the global chocolate industry, ILO’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), and West African governments. The researchers interviewed more than 4,800 farmers, child and adult workers and community leaders for the surveys. Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ghana produce two thirds of the world’s cocoa, with Côte d’Ivoire alone accounting for 40 percent of the world’s cocoa supply.

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A summary of findings on the surveys is available at http://www.iita.org, http://www.usaid.gov, and http://www.dol.gov/ilab now, along with a synthesis of the findings.

FAUXVRAIFAUXFAUXFAUX08/11/2002
20Children in the Fields Mural_x000D_
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Children in the Fields Mural

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Children in the Fields poignantly depicts the plight of hundreds of children who work
as migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States. These children risk their health
and futures to put food on our table.

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The mural was created by Kathleen Farrell and Kathleen Scarboro and completed at the
1997 Labor Heritage Foundation's Great Labor Arts Exchange in Silver Springs, MD.

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"I would like to welcome the Children in the Fields Mural to Washington, D.C.  I hope that everyone who views it will remember the children who toil in the fields instead of school."
      -- United States Senator Tom Harkin

If your organization is interested in using the Children in the Fields Mural for an educational or anti-child labor event, please contact us at mull@endchildlabor.org. The mural is available for free, however the organization would be responsible for its shipping and handling to and from the event, insurance coverage for possible damage to the mural, and meeting the requirements for the mural's proper display and storage. However, the cost is very reasonable given the quality of the mural and the powerful impact that it has on its viewers. 

FAUXVRAIFAUXFAUXFAUX26/06/2002
30Facts About Children in the Fields


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Youth picking apples in North Carolina.

Campaign Fact Sheet

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Problem:

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  • Agriculture was classified as the most dangerous occupation in the country in 1989 [National Safety Council, Accident Facts, 1989] and continues to compete with mining and construction for the dubious honor of being one of the top three most dangerous industries. _x000D_

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  • Children are a significant part of the agricultural workforce. Although accurate counts of the farmworker population continues to evade even the best statisticians, United Farmworkers Union estimates that as many as 800,000 children work in agriculture. _x000D_

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  • The National Association of Community Health Centers reported in 1991 that 38% of farmworkers consist of women and children under the age of 14. _x000D_

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  • Migration from one agricultural work area to another also compounds the problems for the migrant farmworker family. Constant moving, short periods of employment, longer periods of unemployment, income fluctuations dependent upon the crop and crop conditions, and annual disasters all play a part in the disruption of education and economic stability of the migrant and seasonal farmworker family. _x000D_

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  • Almost half of all documented farmworkers in this country are U.S. citizens, and the overwhelming majority of foreign-born farmworkers are legal U.S. residents. [National Agricultural Workers' Survey, U.S. Department of Labor]
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Impact on Education:

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  • Children who work in the fields often work during school hours, which deprives them of their right to an education. _x000D_

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  • Long hours and strenuous work take their toll, causing excessive absenteeism. This often results in their being held back in school, getting discouraged with school, and usually, dropping out. 72% of farmworkers served by the JTPA §402 programs had dropped out of school. _x000D_

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  • Farmworker children have a difficult time keeping up with their classmates, suffering from extreme fatigue and poor nutrition. _x000D_

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  • Due to a disrupted education, farmworker children usually are forced to remain in farmwork, enduring the same substandard working conditions as their parents and grandparents. _x000D_

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  • The rate of school enrollment for farmworker children is lower than for any other group in this country. [Migrant Education: A Consolidated View, Interstate Migrant Education Council, 1987] _x000D_

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  • The dropout rate for migrants is 45%. For the rest of America, the rate is 25%. [Migrant Attrition Project, Testimony before the National Commission on Migrant Education, February 1991] _x000D_

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  • Migrant Education programs, K-12 lose approximately half their initial enrollments by the 9th grade. One in ten completes the 12th grade. [U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, The Education of Adult Migrant Farmworkers, Vol. 2, January 1991] _x000D_

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  • 80% of the adult migrant farmworker population is considered educationally disadvantaged, i.e., functioning at a 5th grade literacy level or less. [US Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, The Education of Adult Migrant Farmworkers, Vol. 2, January 1991] _x000D_

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  • The average level of education for a farmworker is fifth grade.
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Impact on Health:

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  • The life expectancy for the migrant worker is 49 years, compared to 73 years for the general US population. [Center for Disease Control, 1988] _x000D_

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  • Years of working in a stooped position often causes farmworkers to have back and muscle problems as they grow older. _x000D_

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  • The infant mortality rate for migrants is 25% higher than the national average. [Interstate Migrant Task Force: Migrant Health, 1979] _x000D_

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  • The rate of parasitic infection among migrants is estimated to be 11 to 59 times higher than that of the general US population. [Ortez, J.S., "Composite Summary and Analysis of Hearing Held by the Department of Labor, OSHA on Field Sanitation for Migrant Farmworkers," Docket No. H308, 1984] _x000D_

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  • From July 1992 through December 1993, overexertion accounted for approximately 4,500 work-related injuries of adolescents treated in hospital emergency rooms; about 2,500 of these injuries were attributed to lifting. [National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1994] _x000D_

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  • The primary agents of fatal and nonfatal injuries to children on farms include tractors, farm machinery, livestock, building structures, and falls. _x000D_

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  • Children account for about 20% of all farm fatalities. _x000D_

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  • 300 children die from farm-related accidents each year and more than 23,500 children are injured. [The Wall Street Journal, July 20, 1989] _x000D_

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  • At least forty-two children under the age of 15 died as a result of farm-related accidents in California between 1980 and 1989, with approximately four deaths per year for the ten year period. An evaluation of deaths among children not noted as occurring on farms suggested that the actual number of farm-related deaths among children may be 25% greater than was observed. [UC Agricultural Health and Safety Center News, University of California, Health and Safety Center at Davis, California, Winter 1993] _x000D_

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  • "The EPA regulations for protecting workers against pesticide hazards are based on adult exposure only and give no special consideration to children." [U.S. GAO Report, 1992] _x000D_

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  • Children in agriculture are exposed to a range of pesticides each year. Children tend to be more susceptible to pesticides because they absorb more pesticides per pound of body weight and because of their developing nervous system and organs. _x000D_

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  • EPA estimates that pesticide exposure causes farmworkers and their families to suffer between 10,000 to 20,000 immediate illnesses annually, and additional thousands of illnesses later in life. _x000D_

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  • A recent study found that 48% of farmworker children working in the fields had been sprayed with pesticides. ["The Hidden Cost of Child Labor," Family Circle, March 12, 1991] _x000D_

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  • Two studies have linked childhood brain tumors and leukemia to pesticide exposure. [The Occupational Health of Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers in the United States, Farmworker Justice Fund, 1988] _x000D_

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  • A recent study found that in California from 1982 to 1990 there were an average of 1,173 reported illnesses annually related to pesticide exposure. During the same time period, there were a total of 50 fatalities that were classified as being definitely, probably, or possibly related to pesticides. [UC Agricultural Health and Safety Center News, University of California, Health and Safety Center at Davis, California, Winter 1993] _x000D_

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  • A report in 1990 of migrant children in New York found that more than 40 percent had been sprayed with pesticides. Another 40% had worked in the fields while the fields were still wet.
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Impact on Families:

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  • The average income for a farmworker family is less than $6,000 per year compared to more than $28,000 for the average American family. [Center for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics] _x000D_

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  • Farms with 10 or fewer workers are exempt from providing toilets and drinking water for farmworkers. As a result, one in six farmworkers-adults and children-working in U.S. agriculture lacks access to toilets. For farms with 11 or more workers, even when toilets and drinking water are provided, the facilities only have to be located within one quarter mile of where the workers are working. _x000D_

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  • Only 4 states provide full unemployment insurance coverage for farmworkers; in fourteen states, workers' compensation coverage does not apply to farmworkers at all; and in more than half of the states, minimum wage laws do not apply to agricultural employment. _x000D_

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  • The federal law regarding overtime pay totally exempts any worker in farming from receiving overtime pay. States have added little protection in this area for farmworkers.
FAUXVRAIFAUXFAUXFAUX26/06/2002
40Provisions of the FLSA Affecting Young Agricultural Workers

Provid

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FLSA Provides Inadequate Protection

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Problem: _x000D_

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  • Child labor provisions are divided into two categories: agricultural and non-agricultural labor. _x000D_

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  • Minors working in agriculture are less protected from exploitation and more exposed to hazardous employment which threatens their health, safety, education, and well-being.
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Status:

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  • Seventy-six percent of the states set a minimum age for non-agricultural employment at 14 years. In agricultural employment, 27 percent of the states set a minimum age below 14 years and 49 percent have no minimum age for employment. _x000D_

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  • For child agricultural workers, the maximum hours of work while school is in session is either greatly extended or no maximum is set at all: 57 percent of the states do not set maximum hours for 14- and 15-year-olds and 78 percent do not set maximum hours for 16- and 17-year-olds. For states that do set maximum hours of work, they are as high as 60 hours a week, even when school is in session.
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Model State Child Labor Law:

In response to outdated and insufficient state child labor laws, the Child Labor Coalition drafted a model state law. Important provisions in the model law provide equal protection for migrant and seasonal farmworker children, as provided for minors employed in non-agricultural industries. _x000D_

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  • The model law sets a minimum age of 14 for all employment (whether non-agricultural or agricultural employment); _x000D_

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  • The model law sets the same maximum hours of work while school is in and out of session (for non-agricultural and agricultural employment): _x000D_

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    When School is in Session:
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    14- and 15-year-olds -- 15 hours maximum
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    16- and 17-year-olds -- 20 hours maximum _x000D_

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    When School is Not in Session:
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    14- and 15-year-olds -- 30 hours maximum
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    16- and 17-year-olds -- 40 hours maximum _x000D_

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  • The model law prohibits minors (under age 18) from dangerous agricultural occupations and substances and operating hazardous tools and machinery. _x000D_

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  • The model law requires certificate of employment for working minors, regardless of occupation.
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Problem:

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  • Child labor provisions are divided into two categories: agricultural and non-agricultural labor. _x000D_

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  • Minors working in agriculture are less protected from exploitation and more exposed to hazardous employment which threatens their health, safety, education, and well-being.
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Status:

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  • A migrant farmworker child can be employed in agriculture even if younger than 12 years of age. _x000D_

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  • Even without parental consent, 10- and 11-year-old migrant farmworker children can be used as hand-harvesters if the farm gets a waiver from the U.S. Department of Labor. _x000D_

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  • A migrant farmworker child can work in agriculture more than 40 hours a week, even during the school term. _x000D_

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  • A migrant farmworker child can work an unlimited number of hours performing agricultural services before school. _x000D_

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  • A migrant farmworker child 14 years old or younger can use knives, machetes, operate machinery, and be exposed to dangerous pesticides. _x000D_

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  • A migrant farmworker child may engage in hazardous employment at the age of sixteen years. Hazardous employment in other industries and occupations is prohibited for minors under the age of eighteen. _x000D_

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  • Migrant farmworker children, like their parents, are often exempt from unemployment compensation, worker's compensation, overtime, and federal minimum wage.
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See: H.R. 1870: The Young American Worker's Bill of Rights
         (article in this section)

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(Rep. Tom Lantos - sponsor).
The bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to reform the provisions relating to child labor.

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Among other things, the bill provides equal protection for minors working as migrant and seasonal farmworkers, as for those minors who are engaged in non-agricultural employment. Equal standards are set for minimum age for employment (14 years), day and weekly hours restrictions, requirements for work permits, etc. Additionally, the bill identifies several occupations that are particularly hazardous for the employment of children between the ages of 16 and 18. Pesticide handling will be added to the list of Hazardous Occupations Orders. These provisions do not apply to children working on family farms.

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FAUXVRAIFAUXFAUXFAUX05/11/2002
50Proposed: The Young American Worker's Bill of Rights

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H.R. 1870: The Young American Workers' Bill Of Rights _x000D_

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The Young American Workers' Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 1870), would establish minimum standards for protecting children in the workforce. This includes: _x000D_

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  • establish criminal sanctions for willful violations of child labor laws that result in the death of a child (maximum 10 years in prison) and for willful violations that result in serious bodily injury to a child (maximum 5 years in prison); _x000D_

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  • provides that willful and repeated violators of child labor laws are ineligible for federal grants, loans, or contracts for 5 years, and also are ineligible to pay the subminimum youth training wage or to employ a minor for 5 years; _x000D_

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  • establishes for the first time limits of 4 hours/day and 20 hours/week that 16 and 17 year olds can work while school is in session; _x000D_

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  • requires certificate of employment for minors under the age of 18 which includes approval by parents and schools in order to avoid interference with school requirements; _x000D_

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  • provides protection for minors under the age of 14 who are migrant workers or seasonal agriculture workers; the bill does not affect in any way the current provision exempting children who work on family farms; _x000D_

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  • broadens the scope of hazardous work orders for teenagers to include paper baling, power-driven meat slicers, door-to-door sales, poultry processing, fish and seafood processing, and pesticide handling; _x000D_

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  • requires employers to post at worksites key provisions of applicable child labor laws; _x000D_

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  • requires the Department of Labor (DOL) to publish and circulate regularly the names and addresses of employers who willfully violate child labor laws; _x000D_

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  • requires the DOL to compile and make available to school districts the names and addresses of child labor law violators and the exact nature of the violation; _x000D_

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  • authorizes under certain circumstances a private right of action, in case of serious bodily injury or death, for aggrieved minors or their families against child labor violators; _x000D_

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  • mandates clear coordination and information referral among key federal enforcement agencies (DOL, OSHA, INS, et al.); _x000D_

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  • establishes a permanent Child Labor Advisory Committee to provide expert policy advice to DOL Secretary; _x000D_

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  • extends coverage of child labor laws to all employers regardless of annual dollar volume of sales although certain small businesses are exempted from other provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act; _x000D_

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  • authorizes increased funding for additional costs resulting from changes in law, particularly with respect to reporting requirements and penalties; _x000D_

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  • requires DOL to compile yearly data on occupations in which minors under 18 are employed and on the number of child labor violations; _x000D_

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  • requires DOL and HHS to issue an annual report on child labor in America and the attendant safety and health hazards. _x000D_

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FAUXVRAIFAUXFAUXVRAI05/11/2002
60Eliminating Child Labor

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Recommendations for the Elimination of
Child Labor in the U.S.
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Presented by:
L. Diane Mull, Executive Director
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs

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The United States has been a global leader in efforts to improve human rights protections. With respect to child labor, however, we need to place our focus on the domestic front. The steps necessary to eliminate child labor in the United States are not easy ones¾ the issue is very complicated. If our purpose is to completely eliminate child labor in the United States, this will require implementing both short-term and long-term solutions if we are to remain a model for the global community.

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If we want to maintain our status as a global leader in human rights, a multi-tiered approach must be undertaken to ensure that elimination of the problem results, as opposed to driving the problem further underground. Consideration must be given to making clear and appropriate distinctions between children of farm owners and all other children who work on farms. This requires development of a more current, realistic view of what constitutes a small, family operated farm¾ one that engages only the family members in work on the farm and not non-family members or contract labor.

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FLSA Child Labor Amendments

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First, we must make corrections to modernize the FLSA to eliminate the current exemptions and equalize and increase the protections for children working as hired workers in agriculture. Once corrections to current law are in place, we must improve and expand the enforcement of the law. To simply increase enforcement of the existing weak child labor laws that apply to agriculture will have little or no effect in eliminating the problem.

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We must raise the level of protection for hired farmworker children to be equal to the protection provided for other children. Agriculture should join the ranks of manufacturing, mining and construction and be declared a hazardous industry. Therefore, no child under the age of 16 should be allowed to work as a hired worker in agriculture. For children 16 to 17, no child should be allowed to work in hazardous jobs, i.e., including jobs that result in exposure to pesticides, dangerous equipment, risk of falls, and the other dangerous aspects of agricultural employment. Hours of work should be limited for children under the age of 18. These limits should include no work before school, no more than three hours of work after school, and a limit of 20 hours per week during the school term. Additionally, no child under 18 should work more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session. No child under 21 should be allowed to mix, load, apply or handle pesticides or pesticide containers.

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The hazardous orders must be revised to reflect the dangers associated with exposure to pesticides, working around and with dangerous machinery and sharp cutting instruments.

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Labor Standard Improvements for the Adult Farmworker Parents

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Changes to child labor laws serve to eliminate the obvious inconsistencies under the FLSA that encourages child labor in agriculture and children’s exposure to greater risks. However, it does not address the underlying root cause that stimulates child labor in agriculture¾ the inability of the adult parents to earn a living wage while working in agriculture. My second recommendation includes making changes in current agricultural employment laws and policies that encourages federal minimum coverage for agriculture workers. Steps should be taken to remove exclusions for agricultural industry such that farmworkers would be uniformly eligible for the minimum wage, unemployment compensation, workers compensation, and overtime pay. Additionally, agricultural policy should facilitate the employment of domestic farmworkers over the importation of foreign or guestworkers.

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The economic necessity for the parents to take the children to the fields must be removed. The only effective way to do this is to enable the working parent to earn a living wage while performing their agricultural work. Exemptions under the law that are afforded to agriculture are not afforded to any other industry. In a market driven environment, a business must be competitive in its payment of wages and benefits in order to attract a workforce¾ the more dangerous or difficult the job, the higher the pay. Yet, exemptions under current labor standard laws allow for agriculture to continue to operate outside of this environment. For example, agriculture is subsidized by tax dollars to pay for importing foreign labor that displaces domestic workers, instead of requiring agriculture to improve wages and benefits in order to attract its workforce.

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Federal tax dollars are used to bring in foreign labor which increases the over-supply of agricultural workers, thus driving down wages and working conditions. No other industry is afforded this level of special treatment. Additionally, agriculture is allowed exemptions under labor standards, and provided numerous other subsidies that do not filter down to the workforce. Agricultural industry is big business and is largely no longer the mom and pop operations of yesterday. As corporations, the industry should be required to use modern labor management practices and be treated no differently than other industries of similar size, production, revenues, and expenditures.

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Farmworker children are working because their parents cannot earn a living wage working in agriculture. Exemptions under nearly all of the federal labor standards result in this occupational group being a large segment of the working poor in this nation. The seasonal nature of agricultural employment, combined with the large surplus of agricultural workers and their declining earnings over the past twenty years, stimulate the need for farmworker parents to take their children to the fields to work in order to help supplement the family’s income. If the economic pressures within the family were removed or lessened and the restrictions on working in agriculture increased, then the economic incentive to take the children to the fields would be greatly reduced. Farmworkers need to be treated equally under the law and be eligible for comprehensive coverage under the federal minimum wage, unemployment compensation, workers compensation, overtime pay, and child labor protections.

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Enforcement and Penalties

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Since 1990, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Divisions’ level of enforcement activities related to child labor has fluctuated from year to year. Yet, consistently the investment has been in a downward trend. The Department of Labor should establish a strategic plan for the implementation of its enforcement responsibilities, establish a higher commitment of resources for the enforcement of child labor laws, and maintain the investment consistently over the long term. Currently, Wage and Hour relies on a compliant driven mechanism for the reporting of violations before inspections are conducted. This approach will not work effectively in the agricultural sector. Given the economic problems experienced by the parents, service providers’ sympathy because of the plight of the farmworker families, Cooperative Extension and Department of Agriculture’s concerns for farmers and the industry, any expectations for complaints to be generated in a small, rural agricultural community are unrealistic. Only a persistent, repeated, unannounced, full-scope investigations on all farms, regardless of the number of workers reported, is essential. The number of inspectors must be increased relative to the size and scope of the problem. Increasing inspectors on a seasonal basis during peak harvest seasons may prove to be somewhat more cost effective than hiring full-time inspectors.

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We encourage raising monetary penalties for violators to a level that creates a significant disincentive, with the provision of serving time in prison for multiple violations or repeat offenders. Given the Department’s modest fines and lack of success in collecting fines levied against child labor violators, we recommend that if an industry is found to be in violation of the law, the first time offender pays no less than a $10,000 fine per violation. Failure to pay such fines on time will result in the loss of their business license until such fine is paid. For a second violation, the industry loses all rights of access under the law to any federal or state employment exemptions, federal or state benefits or tax breaks afforded industry, or subsidy existing in law or enacted for a period up to five years. This includes prohibiting the employer from using guestworkers or other federal or state subsidized employment agents or services. Should a third violation occur or a pattern of practice be evident, the employer loses all rights for a period of ten years. Likewise it should be made clear that on farms where farm labor contractors are used as the employment agent for hiring workers, responsibility for the farm labor contractor’s failure to comply with the child labor law lies with the farm owner. After a second violation, the farm owner is restricted from using any guestworkers or outside employment agents for the purpose of hiring workers and all penalties, restrictions and fines are shared by the farm owner.

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Department of Labor educational initiatives that are targeted to prevent child labor in the agricultural sector should be developed and customized for the population. Glitzy campaigns for urban, educated populations are ineffective with the farmworker community. Special efforts must be undertaken to ensure that materials, messages, and media approaches are appropriately field tested with the population and are conducted by groups with special expertise in this area working with the farmworker population. To do otherwise, is a waste of valuable resources and time.


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Needed Services for Children and Youth


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At-Risk and Out-of-School Youth Education Program

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President Clinton in his State of the Union address pledged to renew the fight against child labor and is advocating increases in several key areas that will have a positive impact on both international and domestic child labor. However, one area continues to remain largely not addressed¾ the needs of at-risk and out-of-school youth who make up the largest segment of children working in agriculture.

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Currently no nationally targeted program exists to address the needs of these children and youth. Large funding increases for fiscal year 1999 have been proposed for migrant head start, $137 million to serve pre-school children, and migrant education, $354 million to serve predominantly two-thirds elementary school-age children. The seriously at-risk farmworker youth on the verge of dropping out of school and the out-of-school youth have no program that is customized and designed to address their unique needs, and education and job-related training requirements.

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Fifteen years ago, under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), the Youth Employment and Training Program (YETP) served tens of thousands of at-risk and out-of-school youth with basic and remedial education and vocationally oriented training programs. It was hugely successful, but was lost when the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) replaced the CETA legislation. In 1995, the JTPA §402 program, the employment, education and training program for farmworker adults, served less than 5,000 youth nationally between the ages of 16 to 21.

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Performance standards and job placement outcome requirements under JTPA §402 result in youth being served as if the youth were an adult fully entering the labor market. Unfortunately, this program, as currently designed, does not allow for longer-term educational development, return to full-time school, and related school-to-work educational initiatives that are customized for the farmworker youth. The migrant and seasonal farmworker section under the Workforce Investment Partnership Act, recently passed by the Senate, does have some language that allows for youth-related services, but funds were not made available to provide such services.

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Within the 1999 budget, the Administration requested a $5 million pilot program within the U.S. Department of Labor’s 1999 Pilots and Demonstration budget. This will result in one or two grants being awarded for a three-year pilot period while model approaches are studied for migrant youth. In the meantime, up to 57 percent of farmworker youth will continue to drop out of school and out-of-school youth will not be able to achieve their occupational or educational dreams. Although an admirable proposal, this request falls far short of what is needed to immediately address the needs of both seasonal and migrant farmworker youth, aged 12 to 21.

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A nationally administered farmworker youth stipend-education program is needed. This could be achieved by establishing a separate authorization for youth funds for this purpose, setting aside 10 percent of the Titles II B and C youth funds under JTPA at the national level to be targeted toward serving both seasonal and migrant farmworker youth, or significantly increasing by adding an additional $70 million to the funding of the current JTPA §402 program with the provision of providing services for at-risk and out-of-school youth age 12 to 21.

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Regardless of the funding mechanism used, to cost effectively administer these funds, I suggest utilizing the JTPA §402 program as the vehicle to integrate both the youth and adult education and vocational training components. This program can serve as an alternative education program for youth that feel disenfranchised in the traditional school system. Using this service network would ensure the avoidance of duplication of services, keep administrative costs down, and allow for a logical transition for the youth, once educational objectives are attained, to enter the adult job placement program preparing them for the workforce in the 21st century.

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Infants and Pre-School Children’s Program

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Currently the migrant head start program serves pre-school migrant children up to age five. However, the program does not include eligibility for seasonal farmworker children of the same age. The regular head start program does not serve these children¾ those who live in poor rural isolated communities. The current migrant head start program eligibility requirements are such that once a migrant farmworker settles into a community and no longer migrates, they lose their eligibility to receive migrant head start services for their children. To affect the problems associated with the very young infants and children under age five who are found in and around the fields, appropriate day care services must be provided for both migrant and seasonal farmworker families.

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Discussions are currently underway regarding the reauthorization of the Head Start legislation. A change in the definition of the eligible population to include seasonal farmworkers’ children, in addition to migrant, would help to alleviate a substantial part of the problem of children being brought to the fields. In order to achieve greater continuity between programs, the definition of migrant and seasonal farmworkers that has been approved under the Senate’s Workforce Investment Partnership Act and the House’s Employment, Training and Literacy Enhancement Act could be utilized.

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Additional funding to serve the seasonal farmworker population would be required, as the current appropriation does not adequately address the needs of the migrant population. Consideration should be given to identifying a specific percentage of funds that are set-aside for the migrant/seasonal head start program. For example, ten percent of the funds could be set-aside and earmarked for the migrant and seasonal head start program. Although the overall head start appropriations have increased substantially, the migrant head start program has not increased proportionately. In order to reduce administrative burden and maximize limited funds, we would encourage that funds be awarded to current migrant head start service providers and identifying other farmworker service providers to assist in communities currently not served. Funds to service this population should be centrally administered from the national level through a single organizational unit within the Department of Health and Human Services.

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To ensure that the youngest of infants are not taken to the fields, amendments should include language that allows current and new Migrant/Seasonal Head Start programs to have the opportunity to access funding for the provision of early infant care services for the farmworker population. In order to ensure that such targeting of farmworkers occur under Head Start, a specific percentage should be identified as a set aside for the migrant and seasonal farmworker population. Lastly, the requirement for programs to generate a twenty (20) percent match for migrant/seasonal head start program funds should be fully removed given the poor rural, isolated communities where such centers migrant head start centers are located.

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Labeling and Independent Monitoring

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Pressure from consumers and large grocery and commodity distributors will help to move agricultural industry away from reliance on children working in the fields. What is needed is a labeling program that identifies for the consumer those commodities and food products that are certified to be child labor free and produced under farmworker friendly conditions. Such labeling requirements would encourage manufacturers and grocery store distributors to require that their purchase and production contracts specifically prohibit the use of child labor in any aspect of the production of fruits and vegetables for sale to consumers. However, it would be extremely important to ensure that independent monitoring is conducted to ensure that such certifications or claims are true.

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Pesticides in the Agricultural Workplace

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The short-term and long-term effects of exposure to multiple pesticides that children and adults face who work is agriculture is not known, but especially for children. Therefore, Congress should consider recommending that EPA reevaluate all pesticides in use to ensure that reentry intervals and labeling requirements maintain a 10X-safety margin for occupational exposure by farmworker children, youth, and pregnant and lactating women. As part of the cost associated with the certification and training of agricultural workers, a fee could be assessed to the chemical companies based on the danger level of the pesticide and the volume of use. The revenues from the fees could be used to offset the cost for conducting prevention education initiatives and training for farmworkers who are at risk of exposure to the pesticides.

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Closing

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Whether a farmworker is an adult or a child, a migrant or a seasonal worker, no other people in our society work harder, with as little protections from exploitation, and in return for so few opportunities or benefits. The farmworker adult and child make tremendous sacrifices in health, education, housing, and financial security in order to help provide the abundant supply of low-cost food that we as a nation take for granted.

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I urge that, in the future, whenever legislation is being considered that works to improve the circumstances of children and youth, that farmworker children and youth be remembered and not be left out. That they, like other children, are afforded access to the same level of protection, benefits under the law and opportunities that all other children share. As we prepare for the future, all children and youth, including farmworkers, need a chance to have the best education available in order to be prepared for employment in the 21st century.

FAUXVRAIFAUXFAUXVRAI02/11/2002
70Senate Testimony by L. Diane MullFAUXVRAIFAUXFAUXVRAI05/11/2002
80Press Statement About GAO Report

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Executive Director L. Diane Mull's press statement
about the release of the GAO Report

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Thank you, Congressmen Lantos, Waxman, Sanders and Secretary Herman for this opportunity to speak today regarding the GAO report on child labor in agriculture. I am extremely pleased that a critical step to document the problem of child labor in America has been accomplished. This can help arm the Adminstration and the Congress to make needed changes within the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its regulations to raise the level of protection of farmworker children and make it equal to that of all other children. And lastly, Congressman Lantos, I want to thank you for the leadership role that you have taken on this issue in the House of Representatives.

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I want to applaud the recent efforts of the Department of Labor. Through the Fair Harvest/Safe Harvest campaign, much needed information is being made available to the farmworker population. I hope that this will be an ongoing and expanded effort, until we are assured that every farmworker family in America knows and understands their rights and how to protect their children from the dangers in the agricultural workplace.

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Although agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, children are legally allowed to work at very young ages, for unlimited hours before school and after school. The work is affecting their education. As many as 45 to 55 percent of farmworker children are dropping out of school. This is affecting these children’s chance for a good education–an education that can help them break out of this cycle of poverty.

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Children are dying and being injured in our fields. Children are being sprayed with pesticides, being run over by tractors, being injured and hurt in order to put food on tables across America and around the world. Just recently, a 9 year old was run over and killed by a tractor while working in a blueberry field in Michigan, a 13 year old was knocked off a ladder where he was picking cherries in Washington state and was run over by a trailer being pulled by a tractor, and a 17 year old while picking peaches and pruning apple trees in Utah was sprayed twice with pesticides in one week, he died of a massive brain hemorrhage. Children are dying and are being injured and their precious lives and futures are being stolen.

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As the custodians of our children, we, as a nation, are charged with safeguarding their futures. We are charged with protecting them from exploitation on the job by prohibiting child labor for children under the age of 14 and by preventing children and minors from working in hazardous occupations that endanger their lives. Farmworkers, as an occupational group, are often excluded from such basic job protections as the federal minimum wage, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, and overtime pay. Because farmworker adults cannot earn a living wage working in agriculture and do not typically collect public assistance, farmworker families are forced to bring their children to the fields in order to put food on their table. It becomes an economic necessity for their children to work so that the family can survive.

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At hand are issues that reflect how we view the rights of individuals within our society. If we fail to protect adequately all segments of the work force from job hazards, we risk the creation of a class system that defines the rights of some workers as superior to those of others. To continue to allow inequity in labor standard protections calls into question our integrity as a civilized society. To know that these individuals are largely minority and immigrant workers speaks to an even more egregious form of discrimination.

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The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs through the Children in the Fields campaign supports both the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE) and the Young American Workers Bill of Rights–badly needed legislation that addresses these disparities by providing equal protection and equal standards for children who work as hired workers in agriculture.

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The fruits and vegetables we eat are washed with the blood, sweat and tears of America’s farmworker children. It is time for action. It is time that we stop this injustice and provide protection for these children. We must act before any more children lose their lives or are injured. We must act before more children sacrifice their futures to put food on our tables.

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FAUXVRAIFAUXFAUXVRAI05/11/2002