Among the many sobering materials that my students and I have examined in this semester’s Children & International Law seminar is an article entitled “Why Are Children Working in American Tobacco Fields?,” which Gabriel Thompson published last year in the the Nation. It recounts the lives of preteens and young teens who toil in North Carolina, 60 hours a week for $7.25 an hour. Most were born outside the United States, and many suffer nicotine poisoning from their labor. U.S. laws have regulated child labor for the last three-quarters of a century, yet even today those laws place only loose restrictions on the agricultural sector.
The article exposes a gap in child protection – one that will receive further examination when academics and policymakers take part in “Confronting Child Labor in the Global Agricultural Supply Chains,” a symposium to be held April 4 at the University of California, Davis, School of Law. Cosponsors include the law school’s California International Law Center (of which I’m proud to have served as the founding Director) and its Journal of International Law and Policy.
According to the conference program, speakers will include Eric Biel, Acting Associate Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, along with a host of experts drawn from the private sector, academia, and nongovernmental organizations.
Details and registration here.