Senators Cory Booker & Bob Menendez Hold Packers Sanitation Services’ Contracted Facilities Accountable After Employing Over 100 Minors At Slaughterhouses

Last week, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, along with numerous other Senate colleagues, sent letters to nine companies that contracted with Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. (PSSI). This followed the August 2022 investigation against PSSI for unlawfully employing migrant child labor workers at host company facilities.

As previously reported by WAN, in this case, the Department of Labor (DOL) found PSSI liable for illegally employing at least 102 children between the ages of 13 to 17 in hazardous job positions. The company had the children working overnight shifts at 13 meat slaughter facilities in eight states, exposing them to harmful chemicals, cleaning meat processing equipment, including back saws, brisket saws, and head splitters, among other threats.

In the letters, the senators requested that each company detail the changes to their contractor monitoring and procurement processes that they plan to implement or have made since the discovery of PSSI’s use of child labor.

According to a statement emailed to WAN, the letters were sent to Tyson Foods, George’s Inc. (part of Rosen’s Diversified, Inc.), JBS Foods, Maple Leaf Farms Inc., Cargill Inc., Turkey Valley Farms, Buckhead Meat of Minnesota (part of Sysco Corporation), Gibbon Packing Co., and Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc.

“We write in response to recent reports that your company employed a contractor, Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI), that violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) prohibition on the use of child labor in hazardous environments and exploited migrant children,” stated the letter. “We are concerned that your company potentially turned a blind eye to glaring child labor issues in your facilities, and are deeply troubled by the response to previous Congressional inquiries that seek to shift accountability away from host companies to third-party contractors. While we recognize that you may have severed ties with PSSI, we are seeking information on your company’s process for monitoring contractor compliance with labor laws, as well as information on the changes you will be implementing to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”

Since 2018, the DOL has seen a 69% increase in companies illegally employing children. In fiscal year 2023, the DOL found that 835 companies it investigated had employed more than 3,800 children in violation of labor laws.

As DOL noted when unveiling an interagency child labor task force in February, companies who contract for services are often not vigilant about who is working in their facilities, creating child labor violations up and down the supply chain, and host companies often falsely claim that they are unaware or unable to control child labor issues happening at their worksites.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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