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Save Young Lives — End Child Exploitation in the Workforce

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Sponsor: The Hunger Site

Join us in the urgent fight to end child labor and protect our youth from exploitation and hazardous conditions in the workplace.

Child labor is surging in the United States, putting the lives and futures of our children at risk.

Despite laws designed to protect young workers, violations have reached alarming levels, and efforts to weaken these protections are underway. We need urgent action to safeguard our youth.

The Crisis of Child Labor

Child labor violations in the United States have skyrocketed. In the last fiscal year alone, nearly 5,800 children were found working illegally, an 88% increase since 20191. Tragically, several young workers have died in hazardous conditions. For example, in June, 16-year-old William Hampton died while working at a recycling park in Missouri. That same month, Michael Schuls, also 16, was killed operating illegal machinery at a Wisconsin sawmill2.

Exploitation and Legislative Rollbacks

Migrant children are especially vulnerable. Many unaccompanied minors, fleeing poverty and violence, end up in precarious work situations. Recent investigations revealed systemic violations at companies like Packers Sanitation Services, where over 100 minors were employed in hazardous conditions across multiple states3.

Despite these alarming trends, some states are rolling back protections. Arkansas and Iowa have passed laws easing restrictions on work hours and conditions for minors4. These legislative changes, often backed by industry groups, aim to make labor cheaper at the expense of young workers’ rights and safety.

The Need for Stronger Protections

Allowing corporations to undermine workers' rights and weaken child labor laws jeopardizes the safety and future of young workers. It is crucial to reinforce guidelines on work hour restrictions for 16- and 17-year-olds and to ensure that all children, regardless of their immigration status, are protected.

The Department of Labor must prioritize the welfare of young workers by strengthening and enforcing child labor protections. We need comprehensive immigration reform to reduce the vulnerability of migrant children and ensure they have access to education and legal employment5.

Take Action Now

Every child deserves a safe and healthy work environment, free from exploitation. By reinforcing and upholding child labor protections, we can create a future where the rights and dignity of every worker are respected. Join us in calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to take immediate action to protect our youth.

Sign the petition today and demand stronger child labor laws to ensure a better future for all our children.

More on this issue:

  1. U.S. Department of Labor, "Child Labor Enforcement: Keeping Young Workers Safe."
  2. Michael Sainato, The Guardian (20 October 2023), "Republicans continue effort to erode US child labor rules despite teen deaths."
  3. Jennifer Sherer and Nina Mast, Economic Policy Institute (14 March 2023), "Child labor laws are under attack in states across the country."
  4. Chris Gilligan, U.S. News (11 July 2023), "Child Labor Violations on the Rise as States Look to Roll Back Laws."
  5. Lauren Kaori Gurley, The Washington Post (19 October 2023), "Child labor violations soared in fiscal 2023."
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The Petition:

To the United States Secretary of Labor,

I am writing to you today to express my deep concern regarding the current state of child labor laws in the United States, specifically the ongoing efforts to weaken protections for 16- and 17-year-olds in the workforce. I urge the Department of Labor to reinforce guidelines on work hour restrictions for these young workers and to oppose initiatives that prioritize making labor cheaper at the expense of young workers' rights and well-being.

The need for humanity in labor practices cannot be overstated. The recent surge in child labor violations is a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities faced by our youngest workers. According to recent data, nearly 5,800 minors were found working in violation of child labor laws in the past fiscal year. Tragically, this includes several high-profile cases where young lives were lost due to hazardous working conditions. These statistics underscore the urgent need for stronger protections and stricter enforcement of existing laws to prevent further exploitation and harm.

Allowing corporations and CEOs to undermine workers' rights through legislative loopholes not only jeopardizes the safety and future of young workers but also perpetuates a cycle of exploitation and inequality. It is imperative that we uphold the standards that protect our youth from being overworked and exposed to dangerous environments. Easing restrictions on work hours and conditions for 16- and 17-year-olds undermines their ability to focus on education, which is essential for their long-term success and well-being.

By reinforcing guidelines on work hour restrictions and standing firm against efforts to weaken labor laws, the Department of Labor can play a crucial role in ensuring a safer and more equitable working environment for young people. These actions will help to safeguard their health, promote their educational pursuits, and protect their rights in the workplace.

In conclusion, I urge you to prioritize the welfare of young workers by strengthening and enforcing child labor protections. By doing so, we can create a better future for all, where the rights and dignity of every worker are respected and upheld. Together, we can build a society that values the potential and well-being of its youth, paving the way for a brighter and more equitable tomorrow.

Thank you for your attention to this critical issue.


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