Washington, D.C. (Vocus) April 1, 2010
Today the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) asked Americans to call their members of Congress and ask that they support the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Bill: H.R. 3564). The Bill aims to equalize the child labor laws to ensure that all children are protected, and would require safer working environments for those adolescents employed.
“As we celebrate the National Farmworker Awareness Week and Cesar E. Chavez Day, please take a moment to think of how the food got to your table,” asked Norma Flores, Program Director for AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign. “There are an estimated 400,000 children harvesting the foods that you eat, and, despite popular belief, most are American children. All children, regardless of how they look or how they speak, are precious and deserve to be protected.”
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), which was established to stop the use of child labor in the U.S. mandates workers be a minimum of 16 years of age in all non-agricultural industries, yet it allows children to legally perform farm work at age 12 for an unlimited number of hours outside of school. Children performing agricultural work deemed by law as “hazardous” can be as young as 16, while hazardous work in other every other industry is strictly reserved for adults.
The CARE Bill also has provisions to increase enforcement of child labor laws. While FLSA regulations require children to be at least 12 years old, AFOP has seen children as young as six years old harvesting blueberries, a nine-year-old picking peaches, and groups of children playing in the fields among heavy machinery, covered in pesticides due to a lack of labor enforcement resources.
“We need to continue the struggle worker’s rights advocate Cesar Chavez began in defending America’s farmworkers,” said David Strauss, Executive Director of AFOP. “Join the national call-in day and urge your congressman to support legislation that will protect these children.”
Currently, 77 members of the House of Representatives have sponsored the CARE Bill, but additional sponsors are needed to pass this important piece of legislation.
About the Children in the Fields Campaign:
The Children in the Fields Campaign is a project of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP). The campaign strives to improve the quality of life of migrant and seasonal farmworker children by advocating for enhanced educational opportunities and the elimination of discriminatory federal child labor laws in agriculture. AFOP is the national federation of non-profit and public agencies that provide job training and services for America’s farmworkers.
Tel. 202.828.6006 ext. 140