Senator Demands Tyson Answer For Child Labor Accusations

( – Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is demanding to know what Tyson Foods is going to do about reports of labor trafficking of minors at its plants. He sent a scathing letter citing multiple detailed allegations (including work done by the New York Times) that minor children who came into the country illegally were being employed in chicken processing facilities.

Hawley accused CEO Donnie King of using third-party subcontractors for labor in order to exculpate themselves from any potential legal liabilities. Hawley said that any corporate entity that “facilitates, encourages, or excuses child labor” should be reprimanded accordingly.

Hawley wants a response from Tyson about past problems with using child labor, how they have thus far cooperated with local and federal authorities, and what policy changes they’ve made after the exposure of the practice.

Hawley also wanted the company to commit to protecting whistleblowers who come forward to expose further incidents of child labor. He’s asking Tyson to cancel any deals it has with other labor companies who have been caught using kids previously as well as agree to an audit by a third party to make sure there are no children being used anywhere in the production of their products.

Hawley has a consistent interest in the issue, in May he introduced the Corporate Responsibility for Child Labor Elimination Act which would establish steeper penalties for corporations caught in Tyson’s position.

Earlier this year Packer Sanitation Services was found to employ migrant teens aged 13-17 in dangerous conditions, often overnight. The contractor had deals with 13 companies including Tyson Foods. A Department of Labor investigation revealed 102 children were being used for dangerous work, six of them at a Tyson facility in Green Forest, Arkansas.

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