Summer Lee Joins Booker, Welch, Casar In Introducing Bicameral Bill to Hold Corporations Accountable for Child Labor Violations

No child should be forced to do hazardous work

Democrats won’t stand for child labor violations; Conservatives want to strip protections

New York Times: Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S.

WASHINGTON – Today, Summer Lee joined U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Congressman Greg Casar (D-Texas), alongside more than 50 advocacy organizations, in introducing the bicameral Child Labor Exploitation Accountability Act, legislation aimed at holding corporations accountable for the exploitation of children and workers in the food industry.

The Child Labor Exploitation Accountability Act prohibits the Department of Agriculture (USDA) from engaging in contracts with companies that have committed egregious labor law violations and/or contracted with vendors that have incurred, and failed to rectify, serious worker or labor infractions.

Congresswoman Summer Lee released the following statement: “We have seen corporation after corporation put their profits over the health and safety of their workers. Not just adult workers, but children. Child labor not only affects a child’s education, but also their health. NO child should feel the need and bear the responsibility of working to provide themselves food or to help their family, especially when we tout ourselves as the richest country in the world. With child labor on the rise and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle seeking to weaken protections for children, I am honored to cosponsor the Child Labor Exploitation Accountability Act. Rather than offer wages that would entice adult workers, these employers want to put children in the line of danger to save a buck. Kids should be participating in after school activities, sports, hobbies, and focusing on their education, not going to work at a slaughterhouse. We must hold these corporations accountable & refuse to give them another federal contract or dollar.”

“Today, we’re seeing so many children – especially migrant children – forced to work unsafe, dangerous, and overnight jobs by some of the biggest corporations in our country,” said Congressman Greg Casar (D-Texas). “It’s unacceptable. That’s why we’re introducing the Child Labor Exploitation Accountability Act to end child labor by ensuring that if companies want USDA dollars, then they shouldn’t break federal labor law. We can care for all children, and make sure they can get the education, food, housing, and development opportunities they need.” 

“We must hold companies accountable if they violate labor laws and exploit workers, including vulnerable children,” said Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.). “Companies that benefit from federal contracts have a responsibility to ensure that their workers, whether direct employees or contract workers, are treated fairly and safely. My bill will ensure companies are barred from participating in federal contracts if they engage in labor law violations that include the use of child labor. This sends a clear message to corporations that they cannot put their profits above the health, safety, and well-being of workers, especially children.”

“No child should be made to do hazardous work – but as recent reporting has shown, that remains all too common in the United States,” said Senator Peter Welch (D-VT). “We must use every tool at our disposal to end child labor, and that’s why I am proud to join Sen. Booker to introduce the Child Labor Exploitation Accountability Act and leverage the power of federal contracts to hold corporations accountable for these shameful practices.”

Specifically, the Child Labor Exploitation Accountability Act would:

  • Require companies competing for contracts with Department of Agriculture to disclose labor and worker safety infractions by the company itself as well as by any of their contractors in the preceding three years
  • Empower the Secretary of Labor to determine corrective measures for a company and/or their contractors to remain eligible for the USDA contracts
  • Require the Secretary of Labor to prepare a list of companies that are ineligible for USDA contracts for that year based on serious, repeated, or pervasive violations of labor laws, and 
  • Establish strong enforcement measures to ensure USDA and DOL compliance. 

Original sponsors include Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Rep. Greg Casar (TX-35). Original House co-sponsors include Reps. Becca Balint (VT-AL), Shontel Brown (OH-11), Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Cori Bush (MO-01), David Cicilline (RI-01), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Chris Deluzio (PA-17), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Summer Lee (PA-12), Seth Magaziner (RI-02), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Rob Menendez (NJ-08), Ted Lieu (CA-36), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Andrea Salinas (OR-06), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), and Paul Tonko (NY-20).

The bill is endorsed by: The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), Economic Policy Institute, Oxfam America, National Employment Law Project, Better Balance, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign, Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment, Farm Aid, National Immigration Project, Witness at the Border, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, ImmSchools, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, American Grassfed Association, Food Chain Workers Alliance, GC Resolve, Pesticide Action Network North America, Food & Water Watch, Mercy For Animals, Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA, RuralOrganizing.org, Education Fund, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Union of Concerned Scientists, HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance, New England Farmers Union, Neighboring Food Co-op Association, Common Ground Producers and Growers, Inc., Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Nebraska State AFL-CIO, Heartland Workers Center, Nebraska Appleseed, The Advocates for Human Rights, The Children’s Partnership, Children at Risk, North Carolina Justice Center, Church Women United in New York State, Farmworker Association of Florida, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), Michigan Farmers Union, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, Migrants and Minorities Alliance, Human Rights Initiative, Children of Smithfield, La Semilla Food Center, Mothers and Others, Justice and Mercy for Immigrants, and Centro Hispano Comunitario de Nebraska.

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