Shine Global is dedicated to ending the exploitation and abuse of children worldwide and in this pursuit we make films that raise awareness and effect change on behalf of their well-being. It was for this reason that we recently released our documentary, THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA, which told the stories of 3 of the estimated 400,000 American child migrant farm workers who work as many as 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, at below minimum wage salaries. They work legally from the age of 12 in all weather extremes in what is the most dangerous occupation extant for minors. They earn no overtime and no sick days.
This is legal in America because the Fair Labor Standards Act, enacted in 1938, excluded agriculture and thus left thousands of children unprotected. Shine applauds US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis for the changes the Department of Labor proposes to make that will close this gap and provide equal protections to minors, whatever their occupation. We encourage all Shine supporters to educate themselves about the existing legislation and pending revisions and to demonstrate their support for the health and wellbeing of our children.
The proposed rules maintain the current parental exemption and would not apply to children working on their parents’ farm. They would prohibit hired workers under age 16 from working with certain animals, handling pesticides, working in timber operations, and working in or around manure pits and storage bins. Further, the new rules would prohibit farm workers under the age of 16 from participating in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco (which causes severe tobacco poisoning) and from operating power driven equipment. The department is also proposing a new non-ag hazardous occupations (non-ag HO) order that would prevent children under the age of 18 from working in grain elevators, feed lots, stockyards, and livestock exchanges and auctions. The DOL is also soliciting comments, and may institute regulations, limiting hired youths’ exposure to extreme temperatures, as well as whether the payment of piece rates to young farm workers impacts their prolonged exposure to potentially harmful conditions.
The full document of proposed changes and the DOL’s justifications can be read at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=WHD-2011-0001-0001
Comments can be made electronically at the above website or by mail to: Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3502, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210. Comments should be identified by Document ID: WHD-2011-0001- 0001, RIN 1235-AA06