Child labor in the US & around the world: a scourge to undercut adult labor

Child tobacco worker in US (from HRW) Jan 23 2016

This is a child tobacco worker in the US where child labor is legal for industrial farmworkers & where there are an estimated 800,000 child farmworkers. In 2012, an initiative from the Department of Labor (DoL) to institute protective & safety laws for child farmworkers was vigorously opposed by the Obama administration which mandated the DoL never raise the issue again. Neither of the US labor federations did a thing to oppose this. Obama’s politics are a seamless whole–from war & drone bombing to child welfare.

Child farmworkers face many safety & health dangers on industrial farms:
exposure to pesticides (often sprayed directly by planes as they work); snake & insect bites; razor-sharp tools & lack of safety equipment; dangerous farm machinery (without safety devices like seat belts or roll-over bars); extreme heat; chemicals & explosives; work at extreme heights in silos & grain storage facilities; work in manure pits (with E. coli contamination). On tobacco farms, dermal exposure puts them at the same cardiovascular & cancer risks as active smokers.

Wisdom Blow has just reposted this article I wrote in 2012 on child labor explaining its place in neoliberal capitalist economics–the economics of war & sweatshops. Child labor serves primarily to undercut & disempower adult labor, create a compliant exploitable workforce, & eliminate all rights & safety protections for workers. It is a scourge, not a necessity & building strong, democratic unions is the alternative. Child labor is not just a human rights issue, but a labor issue.