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TAKE ACTION: Comment period just extended to December 1st.


That’s right, in the US, children as young as twelve can legally work in the fields. They can pick your berries and even drive a tractor. According to a US Department of Labor (DOL) report, tractor-related accidents are the leading cause of death for young farm workers.

Let’s be clear, we’re not talking about the children of growers, but children employed as farm workers.

To the dismay of many in agriculture, the DOL has proposed new rules that would begin improving safety for children in the fields--including a ban on children younger than 16 driving tractors.

TAKE ACTION TODAY! Submit your comment in support of the Department of Labor's proposed changes in child labor regulations in agricculture.

Capitol Press (grower newspaper): Tighter child labor regs alarm ag.
Reuters: U.S. seeks to strengthen safety rules for child farm workers
"Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement. "Ensuring their welfare is a priority."
The Department of Labor said the proposals aimed to "bring parity between the rules for young workers employed in agricultural jobs and the more stringent rules that apply to those employed in nonagricultural workplaces."

Please help make these changes a reality. We know the growers and doing their best to flood the DOL with comments against these improvements in this broken system, We need to make sure the DOL hears from people like you too.

Submit your comment in support of the Department of Labor's proposed changes.

There’s a lot to be done to bring justice to our food production system. The report “Farmworker Inventory,”that UFW co-issued with Bon Appetit Management Company, documents many of the inequities in our current production system.

Excerpt: Few Labor Protections for Children and Youth Farmworkers: Children and youth working in agriculture (an estimated 300,000 to 800,000 are 18 or under) are excluded from many legal protections mandated in other employment sectors. For example, federal laws permit children as young as 12 to be hired to do farm work (with some limitations) and youth as young as 16 are permitted to do hazardous tasks restricted in other sectors. Some state child labor laws, such as those in California and Washington, have stronger protections and stricter limits on age and the number of hours minors can work per day/week, but again, enforcement of child labor laws is nearly nonexistent and there is little data available regarding employer compliance at either the federal or state levels.

The DOL’s proposed rules are a step in the right direction. Please join us in supporting these improvements and send your comment TODAY.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I worked in ag as a 12 year old (8+ / 0-)

    They actually gave us machetes and sent us out to pick rhubarb, unbelievable. Supposedly they only gave the machetes to the "responsible" 12 year olds but I'm pretty sure if they could pick me as one of the responsible ones their criteria was flawed.

  •  I drove my grandfather's tractor... (6+ / 0-)

    when I was 9 or 10.

    "Ich bin ein Dachs!"

    by PvtJarHead on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 10:30:14 AM PDT

    •  Hell I drove my dad's younger than that. (6+ / 0-)

      "Don't get out of first gear".  With proper supervision, it can be a great help.  Without proper supervision, very dangerous.

      And don't ask what age I was the first time I drove the grain truck.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 11:53:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yup, farm kids and driving... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in boot camp, WWII, the recruits were shown tanks, and asked, "anybody think they can drive one of these?"  

        my dad, farm boy from eastern Oregon, was one of the few, if not the only one, to put up his hand. He did managed to figure it out! and got transferred to tanks. it didn't stick, he later got re-assigned but that was one of the better stories I remember.

        one of the reason all of his kids learned to drive STICK, on principal!  if you can drive stick, you can figure out anything!

        "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

        by chimene on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 07:15:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  PTO (0+ / 0-)

      To this day I remember my grandfather in a very LOUD voice saying: "This is the Power Take Off. Keep your hands, legs and everything else away from it!"
      I promptly got my first driving lesson.

      ex-SSP. Central Califonia.

      by hankmeister on Sat Nov 05, 2011 at 06:44:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good post. We need to end (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ufw, Marie, Kamakhya, captainlaser

    child labor.

    More jobs equal less debt, even our kids can understand that.

    by TomP on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 10:38:14 AM PDT

  •  Meanwhile, private jets ferry (0+ / 0-)

    the children of the wealthy elite to summer camp.  

    Absent a minimum livable wage for adults in every occupation, and more for those that do the most physically demanding work, capital will continue to supersede the labor that produces the capital.

  •  And on top of that we can gas them with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ufw, luckylizard

    Methyl Iodide now.

    The life of the unborn is sacred but once they are out of the womb, toss them into the strawberry patch and douse 'em with pesticides.

    Our society seems to be built around generating an empoverished, ignorant, and subservient peasant class.  Paying a union wage, letting workers kids go to school and empowering the workers to stand up for their rights seems to have gone south on the old airplane with the Deportees.

    "Don't dream it, be it" - Brad, Janet and Frank

    by captainlaser on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 12:33:23 PM PDT

  •  Should be exemption for farmer's children (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In the country, young people drive farm equipment. It's congruent with their lifestyle, learning how to do it, safety lessons, etc. This has happened since forever, nothing new, just part of rural life. IMO.

    AFA worker's children being forced to do it? Not good.

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 12:38:02 PM PDT

    •  Agreed. As much as I think (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      letting kids run heavy equipment is nuts, that's how it's done here (Iowa).  We had a couple of young people suffocate in a grain bin  west of here this summer.  It's not unusual for some kid to lose an arm or a leg every couple of years.  Farming is an extremely dangerous job.

      -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

      by luckylizard on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 05:21:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kids in the city fall off playground equipment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and break arms.

        Surprised to see your agreement, thought no one would....

        This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

        by AllisonInSeattle on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 11:10:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think kids OUGHT to do it. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm only observing that farmers' kids have been doing dangerous jobs forever.  I think it's irresponsible to put one's kids in such danger, but I'm a city girl.  It in no way applies to children of overworked, underpaid, and disrespected immigrants.

          I'm not sure I get the playground analogy.  First of all, breaking an arm isn't the same as losing one.  Second, there is a sizable group of parents out there who will sue the city when their kid falls, even if they are the ones who were encouraging reckless behavior.  If a farmer has his 8-year-old drive the tractor and it flips over on him, he'll have the rest of his life to blame himself.  

          This comment is pretty disjointed.  I should have waited until I was fully awake...

          -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

          by luckylizard on Sat Nov 05, 2011 at 05:26:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The US exploits child labor (0+ / 0-)

    I know many adult Mexican immigrants who are better educated than Mexican immigrants who came to the US as children and grew up here. Why? Because the ones who came as children often have their schooling end at 12 years old when they start working in the fields to help their families.

    This is a national disgrace! We don't pay the parents a living wage and we don't stop exploiting child labor.

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