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The good folks at a group called North Carolina Focus on Increased Education Leadership & Dignity (NC FIELD) are raising up an issue that deserves your attention year-round, but especially at Thanksgiving time: the plight of farmworkers and farmworker children. This is from an email the group sent out today:

“Tomorrow we remember the struggles of newcomers and the generosity of strangers….In eastern North Carolina, in just one county where some farmworker youth organizers live and work, the economic impact of agriculture is estimated at 30%. The jobs are some of the most dangerous in our nation, pay no overtime, legally employ children, and expose workers regularly to dangerous chemicals. The labor force responsible for that windfall is largely invisible, poverty-stricken, and as young as twelve years old.” Read More

Author and Duke University history instructor Gabriel Rosenberg has an excellent op-ed in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer about the Obama Administration’s recent and unfortunate capitulation to big business over proposed rules that would have provided somewhat tougher restrictions on child labor in dangerous occupations.  

About all you need to know about the proposed regs and their importance is to know that Sarah Palin was one of the big critics.

Here’s Rosenberg: 

“The criticisms contained startling inaccuracies. Read More

It looks incremental, but it’s progress…

For Immediate Release
April 25, 2012

Contact: Justin Flores, FLOC Director of Programs Office: 919-731-4433; Cell: 704-577-3480

MAJOR TOBACCO COMPANIES AGREE TO MEET WITH FLOC TO DISCUSS FARMWORKERS’ RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Group Includes Reynolds American, Inc.

In a landmark breakthrough, several of the largest tobacco companies have agreed to designate a committee made up of representatives of tobacco manufacturers, tobacco growers, and farmworkers. FLOC will represent the workers, the North Carolina Grower’s Association will represent the growers and Altria will represent Altria/Philip Morris USA, Reynolds American and Philip Morris International.   The committee is charged with Read More

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Despite decades of media attention and lawsuits, North Carolina agricultural interests continue to frequently subject migrant workers to the kind of treatment one would associate with barnyard animals. A new Wake Forest University study offers the latest outrageous news on this subject. Here’s a news release sent out by the Justice Center this morning:

Wake Forest University Study Finds Violations Rampant in Migrant Housing

Study reveals multiple housing law violations at every camp inspected; advocates urging NCDOL to increase inspections of farm worker housing

RALEIGH (March 30, 2012) – A newly released study from the Center for Worker Health at Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that migrant housing in North Carolina is plagued with Read More

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How old were you when you got your first paying job? For most of you the answer will be 16 or later. In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to establish for the first time a minimum age for lawful employment in the United States.  That age was- and still is- 16. In those industries identified as particularly hazardous, such as mining, the minimum age is 18. But in agriculture, which ranks among the most hazardous industries, kids as young as 10 can be lawfully employed.  As an article in this week’s Independent Weekly explains, children working on North Carolina farms face all kinds of risks, including heat stress and pesticide exposure.

Last fall the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) proposed new rules  to protect children from dangerous work in agriculture.  This is the first update to the rules in 40 years. The proposed changes were based largely on recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Those rules would create 15 new Agricultural Hazardous Occupation Orders, or “Ag. H.O.s.”  Children under age 16 would not be allowed to work in the occupations designated as an “Ag. H.O.” unless it is on a farm owned and operated by their parents.  If adopted, the rules would, among other things: Read More