June 12th is World Day Against Child Labour. As hundreds of events take place around the globe, it is worth taking a moment to recognize that child labor is happening not only in countries far away, but right here in the U.S.
On May 12, 2008, an on-going investigation into child labor violations at the Agriprocessors processing plant in Postville, Iowa, was derailed by a conflicting raid conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Among those rounded up in the raid were numerous children, some as young as thirteen years old.
Mark Lauritsen, International Vice President of the UFCW, says Agriprocessors has gotten away with the labor violations for too long. He states: "There is not one other meatpacker operator in this country that has the same sustained long record of law violations as Agriprocessors, not one. They're acting like a renegade in an already tough industry. It's not good for the industry, it's not good for the workers who work in it."
Despite evidence of the use of child labor, Agriprocessors has yet to be held legally accountable for its actions.
While children across the country caught the bus for school and headed off for classes, the children at Agriprocessors went off to work in one of the most dangerous industries in the country.
Child labor anywhere is a disaster, but the discovery of child labor in an American packing plant is an outrage. To ignore the violations that happened there would not only be neglectful of our laws, but a disgrace to our core American values and what we stand for as a country.
The UFCW has never tolerated the use of child labor and never will. Together, we must expose the misdeeds of companies driven by corporate greed and help build stronger workplaces where respect for workers, and those children who will be the next generation of workers, is top priority. Learn More here.