Wednesday, August 31, 2011
By Fred Lucas
(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking to update child labor laws to put more restrictions on farm workers under the age of 18 from working with manure, pesticides, driving tractors and engaging in certain other agricultural activities.
Department officials made the announcement on Wednesday during a conference call with reporters.
Public comment for the regulations is open until Nov. 1 of this year. The rules have not been updated since 1970, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said during the call. The current rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act already prohibit young workers from certain tasks.
“Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America,” Solis said. “Ensuring their welfare is a priity of the department, and this proposal is another element of our comprehensive approach.”
Exemptions would be made under the proposed rules for children who work on farms owned by their parents.
The strengthened child labor rules, which would be enforced by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, would bar agricultural work with pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins. Farm workers under the age of 16 would not be allowed to participate in working on tobacco. This would include cultivation, harvesting and curing tobacco.
The rules are also designed to stop anyone below the age of 18 from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials. Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, and grain silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.
Further, farm workers under the age of 16 would be banned from using all power-driven equipment, including tractors, with an exemption for student learners.
Hilda Solis...colorful character with "close ties to NCLR" ...and MEChA, I bet. 2011 Honoree for Excellence in Government Service at the MALDEF Gala Awards. Just type her name in your search bar. Betcha before long, you'll be livid.