Congresswoman Roybal-Allard Introduces Critical Legislation to Protect U.S. Farmworker Children
Washington D.C. – Today, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of children employed in agriculture work from working longer hours, at younger ages, in more hazardous conditions than children in other working sectors. The legislation amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) by correcting inequities in current labor law.
Entitled the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), the legislation was introduced at a press conference this morning where Representative Roybal-Allard was joined by actress and activist Eva Longoria, who is also the executive producer of a new documentary The Harvest/La Cosecha.
Bruce Lesley, president of bipartisan child advocacy organization, the First Focus Campaign for Children, issued the following statement:
“We applaud Congresswoman Roybal-Allard for introducing the CARE Act, which would address the plight of 400,000 farmworker children across the country. For too long, children laboring in U.S. agriculture have been denied the protections they deserve to ensure their health and well-being. Farmworker children are exposed to extreme weather conditions, hazardous machinery, and dangerous pesticides. Furthermore, in addition to the threats to their health and safety, farmworker children are estimated to drop out of school at four times the national rate.
“The U.S. has long been a leader in fighting child labor around the globe, yet our own labor laws continue to expose young farmworker children to extremely dangerous conditions and fewer safeguards. It simply makes no sense that current law prohibits a 15-year-old from working in an air-conditioned movie theatre for more than three hours on a school day yet simultaneously allows a child as young as twelve to work unlimited hours in the fields on a school day. The CARE Act would correct this serious flaw by ensuring that children working in agriculture are provided with the same age and hour limits, as well as equal protections, as children working in other sectors. The bill would also strengthen provisions for pesticide exposure to take into account the unique risks posed to children.
“We look forward to working with Congress, the Administration, and national and state partners to pass this important bill, which is a critical first step in improving the lives of farmworker children and their families.”