Children's Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act)
Children's Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act) is a United States bill that would bring parity of labor conditions to children field workers that are afforded to minors in other occupations. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard’s introduced of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act, HR 3564) bill in September 2009.
Children as young as 12 years of age who work as many as 12 hours a day, six months a year, subject to hazardous conditions: heat exposure, pesticides, and dangerous work. The agriculture industry has been subject to significantly more lenient labor laws than any other occupation in the United States. As a result, lack of consistent schooling significantly limits their opportunities of succeeding in high school or more. The hazardous conditions threaten their health and lives.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has different standards for children working in agriculture than in any other industry. The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs estimates that there are between 400,000 and 500,000 children working in the farming industry. Children as young as 12 years of age work in the fields. There is no maximum number of hours worked a day, aside from being outside of school hours. They are exposed to the sun, harmful pesticides and hazardous conditions. Children are in up to three times greater danger of exposure to pesticides than adults due to their size and stage of development. The fatality rate is six times that in any other industry: children account for 20% of all deaths on farms. Although agriculture is a hazardous occupation, no statistics are maintained on child laborers and serious accidents.
Children who work on farms or in fields spend on average 30 hours a week, even during times of the year when school is in session. Of the children who work on farms, 50% of them will not graduate from high school. The United States Department of Labor estimates that children earn about $1,000 in one year.
Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard’s introduced of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act, HR 3564) bill in September 2009. The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act, HR 3564) addresses the harshest conditions that tens of thousands of children as young as 12 years of age may be subject to, such as restrictions in the number of hours that children work in a day. The intention of the bill is to raise the standard for children working in agriculture to that of any other occupation in the United States. As of September 1, 2010 the bill had 103 co-sponsors. While on Capitol Hill, Longoria and Romano showed scenes from the feature length documentary to illustrate the harsh working conditions and exploitation of children in the fields.
In September 2009 a panel discussion was hosted by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and including Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, filmmaker Robin Romano, Mark Lara from the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, and other experts. During the presentation, details of Roybal-Allard's bill were outlined: a child must be a minimum of 14 years of age to work in the fields, children under the age of 16 are restricted from working in the fields if it affects their health or school performance, and children under the age of 18 are restricted from hazardous work.
The Harvest documentary film
The Harvest (documentary) film was viewed at a United States Department of Labor panel discussion in September, 2009. The film revisits Edward R. Murrow’s Harvest of Shame, filmed 40 years ago, and reveals that little has changed over the past four decades in the lives of migrant farm workers in the United States. The purpose of the documentary is to bring awareness of the harsh working conditions which tens of thousands of children face in the fields of the United States each year and to enact the Children's Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act, HR 3564) which will bring parity of labor conditions to field workers that are afforded to minors in other occupations.
On the one-year anniversary of the Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard’s introduction of the CARE Act legislation in September 2009, Eva Longoria and film director U. Roberto Romano visited Capitol Hill to continue to bring awareness of the bill and the plight of minor children working in the fields.
- The Harvest (documentary)
- Harvest of Shame, Edward R. Murrow's 1960 television documentary that told of the plight of migrant workers in the United States.
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- International Labour Organization
- Child labor
- Migrant worker
- "Learn the Facts". Children in the Fields. Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs. 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-27.
- "2011 Year of the Farmworker Child". Children in the Fields. Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs. 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-27.
- "Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Press Release". Offices of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. Sep 15, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-27.
- "Department of Labor, Panel Discussion About Migrant Farm Worker Children". Newsroom, Audio and Video, Better Work Program. U.S. Department of Labor. September 16, 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-27' See the video of the DOL panel discussion for more information and a trailer