Children working overnight at the JBS meat packing plant in Grand Island, Nebraska were required to clock in and out of their shifts by entering their ID number into a biometric time lock. The time clock takes pictures of each employee’s face, using facial recognition technology to log in and out each employee for each shift.
Upon clocking in, the children would trade their normal street clothes for JBS badges, raincoats, waterproof overalls, or paints along with hard hats, goggles, gloves, and earplugs.
After overnight shifts, the child laborers report being tired at school the next day.
The child labor services JBS was reportedly buying are specifically prohibited but were being acquired in significant quantities. JBS got its child labor from Packers Sanitation Services Inc., LTD, a labor contractor based in Wisconsin with offices in Grand Island.
For the meat industry, Packers Sanitation is a source of cleaning and sanitation services. While the ID badges and work attire may all say “JBS,” they are Packers Sanitation employees. The numbers involved are not insignificant. Packer’s Sanitation was providing 190 workers at JBS in Grand Island.– 64 on the kill floor and 126 on the harvesting side. At the JBS pork plant in Worthington, MN, another 110 Packer’s Sanitation employees were reporting for work.
Of those, the DOL. an investigation has found that a total of 31 children between the ages of 13 and 17 have worked for PSSI at the JBS USA plants in Grand Island, Nebraska, and in Worthington, Minnesota, as well as a Turkey Valley Farms plant in Marshall, Minnesota,
Packers Sanitation at a Tyson Foods plant in Sedalia, Missouri is also under a similar investigation. According to an unsealed search warrant application, DOL investigators conducted overnight surveillance at Tyson’s Sedalia plant and saw people entering the plant that was likely children.
Packer’s Sanitation is under a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that restricts its use of child labor and orders it to cooperate with the Department of Labor (DOL) investigation. The TRO continues until Nov. 23 when the Packer’s Sanitation must present a corporate officer who is cleared to answer questions.
At the conclusion of that hearing, the most likely outcome will be making the TRO permanent.
Packers Sanitation is sending two lawyers to clean up for the corporation. They are Gillian G. O” Hara of the Kutak Rock law firm in Omaha, and J. Randall Coffey of Fisher, Phillips in Kansas City.
JBS is not yet represented in the legal action, and that may not be required.
The Fair Labor Standards prohibits an employer from employing “any oppressive child labor in commerce or in production of goods for commerce or in any enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of foods for commerce.”
“Oppressive child labor” includes any child under 16 years of age or between 16 and 18 years of age in any occupation, the Secretary of Labor declares to be particularly hazardous or detrimental to the children’s well-being
The Labor Secretary. has declared several occupations in the operation of power-driven meat-processing machines and occupations involving slaughter and meat and poultry packing, processing, and rendering to be hazardous and detrimental to children between 16 and 18.
Food and agriculture are among the sectors of the economy experiencing labor shortages.
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