US senators to introduce legislation aimed at deterring child labor News
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US senators to introduce legislation aimed at deterring child labor

US Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Peter Welch (D-VT) Tuesday are to introduce legislation to hold corporations accountable for their child labor practices. The bill, titled the Child Labor Exploitation Act, will prohibit the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) from contracting with companies who are either found guilty of committing labor law violations or contracting with vendors who commit labor law violations.

The bill will set out four measures to discourage corporations from illegally exploiting child labor. First, it will require companies vying for contracts with USDA to release their worker and labor safety violations. As part of this measure, potential contractors will also be required to disclose any labor and safety violations committed by their contractors dating back three years.

Second, the bill will give the US Secretary of Labor the power to determine what corrective measures a company and its contractors must take to be eligible for a contract with the USDA. The bill will also require the Secretary of Labor to disclose those companies that are ineligible for USDA contracts based on their serious, repeated, or pervasive violations of labor laws.

To ensure these measures are carried out effectively, the bill will lay out transparency measures for the USDA and Department of Labor (DOL) to follow to ensure compliance.

Booker and Welch will introduce the bill in response to an investigation into child labor exploitation allegations at US meatpacking facilities in December 2022. The DOL found children between the ages of 13 and 17 working overnight shifts at the facilities.

The bill is the most recent measure in the efforts to combat child labor, specifically migrant child labor, in the US. In February, the DOL announced a course of action to address the 69 percent increase in child labor it found since 2018.