U.S. senators are waging war on an increase in the use of child labor.
The legislation, from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) and Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.) and Patty Murray (Wash.), would ramp up fines for child labor violations and hold big corporations responsible for the actions of the smaller businesses they contract with.
The subcontracting provision is significant because the children working in name-brand meatpacking plants and other settings are often technically employed by outside companies, like cleaning contractors. Under current law, it is typically the subcontractor that’s hit with fines . . .
The recent public concern around child labor stems largely from the investigative reporting of The New York Times’ Hannah Dreier. She published a series of stories documenting the dangerous work done by migrant children who left Latin American countries for the U.S. Many kids wound up performing hazardous duties in meatpacking plants, including cleaning heavy machinery.
A Labor Department official said earlier this year that the agency had seen a 50% increase in child labor violations since 2015. The cases came in two forms: children working more hours than were legally allowed for minors, or children performing hazardous tasks meant for adults, and sometimes getting injured . . .
The bill would also raise civil fines for child labor from the current $11,000 to $151,380 for each child involved in a violation. Criminal penalties would increase from a maximum of $10,000 to $750,000 for child labor convictions, according to Democrats’ one-page summary of the proposal.”
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