More child labor violations appear to be on the horizon for the regulated meat industry,
Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods are reportedly under renewed federal scrutiny for possible illegal child labor practices.
Packers Sanitation Services, Tyson Foods contract cleaning agent, was earlier fined $90,828 for using child labor at Tyson’s Green Forest, AR, facility and $15,138 for child labor at Goodlettsville, TN.
Perdue Farms and Tyson are getting new attention from the U.S. Department of Labor about reports about children as young as 13 working overnight to clean poultry facilities.
The Labor Department’s Wage & Hour Division has confirmed Perdue and Tyson are under investigation for child labor but hasn’t provided additional information. One of the reports involves a 14-year-old boy who nearly lost an arm while working at a Perdue facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
The boy was hired by Perdue’s agent along with middle and high schoolers for overnight cleaning duties involving high pressures and acid cleaners
Under federal labor laws, only people 18 and older can take on such industrial cleaning tasks. Minors who fill such jobs often lie about their age, but it is also often evident who the children are.
If either they or their cleaning agents are found to have violated child labor laws, Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods will join a long line of 2023 violators, including JBS Foods, Maple Leaf Farms, Cargill Inc., the Greater Omaha Packing Co, and several others.
The Economic Policy Institute recently reported that child labor violations have increased by nearly 300 percent since 2015, and the Labor Department found more than 800 violators during the past fiscal year.
The thousands of minors being allowed into the United States often owe debts to criminal cartels, which make them targets of human trafficking schemes. Homeland Security is also reportedly investigating industries likely involved in those schemes, and the meat industry is on that list.
Some states are also investigating in support of their child labor laws.
For example, a Minnesota Department of Labor investigation recently led to a $300,000 fine against Tony Downs Food Company for child labor violations.
Meat industry spokesmen always say they are cooperating with authorities and that their company policy is to prevent minors from working in hazardous jobs violating the law. And like Perdue, they promise to bring in outside auditors to ensure it never happens again.
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