US Dept. of Labor: 100+ Children Worked Dangerous Jobs for Firm

US Dept. of Labor: 100+ Children Worked Dangerous Jobs for Firm
Last updated Feb 17, 2023
Image credit: cnn


  • The US Dept. of Labor said Friday that 102 children as young as 13 years old had worked hazardous overnight jobs cleaning slaughterhouses in eight states for Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI), one of the nation's largest food sanitation companies.[1]
  • As part of the investigation, PSSI, which employed children 13 to 17 years old to clean meat processing equipment like back saws, brisket saws, and head splitters, paid $1.5M, or $15,138 per minor, in federal civil penalties for their violations.[2]
  • The Dept. of Labor investigation began in August with a probe into PSSI workers at food processing company JBS USA's plants in Minnesota and Nebraska. Then in November, a complaint was filed in court in Nebraska alleging PSSI illegally employed at least 31 children, with a federal judge subsequently issuing a restraining order against the company.[3]
  • As penalties for employing 49 minors at two JBS Foods facilities in Grand Island, Nebraska, and Worthington, Minnesota, the company was fined a total of $741,762. It was also fined for employing 26 minors at a Cargill Inc. processor in Kansas, as well as in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas.[4]
  • The Dept. of Labor report says PSSI, which employs 17K people across 700 sites nationwide, had children using "caustic chemicals to clean razor-sharp saws," adding that despite flagging some "as minors," supervisors "ignored the flags."[1]
  • Advocates and lawyers for the children say some of the workers were unaccompanied minors who recently came across the southern border, though there has been no indication that the Dept. of Homeland Security is investigating PSSI for human trafficking.[1]


Narrative A

This is not a case of simply hiring a couple of minors by mistake, but a nationwide corporate culture of blatant disregard for child labor laws. Even after the government began investigating, PSSI intimidated its workers into not cooperating with authorities. This is not an isolated event either, as experts say this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the child labor crisis across America.

Narrative B

Though bans on hazardous jobs are necessary for the physical well-being of children, child labor laws from an economic perspective may be counterintuitive. The goal is usually to protect disadvantaged kids whose parents need financial support, but putting those kids in inadequate schools rather than allowing them to work certain manual labor jobs may disadvantage them even more in the future.

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