News & Commentary

April 26, 2023

Jacqueline Rayfield

Jacqueline Rayfield is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary, Rutgers University unions considers resuming strike, Senator Cory Booker introduces legislation aimed to deter child labor through federal contracts, and Cargill Inc claims they will need months to sever ties with a U.S. meatpacking plant fined for child labor violations.

Rutgers staff and the University reached a framework deal and resumed classes on Monday, but staff remain frustrated with University bargaining tactics including delays and ignoring crucial demands. The New Jersey Governor’s office and University announced that a tentative deal on Friday would bring the strike to an end, but staff explain their strike has only been suspended. They reserve the right to go back to the picket line should bargaining not continue.

On Tuesday, Senators Cory Booker and Peter Welch introduced legislation to deter child labor in the meatpacking industry by barring offenders from federal contracts. As a major purchaser of meat for school lunch programs, USDA contracts could act as a deterrent. The legislation aims to address a slew of recent stories uncovering dangerous labor practices in the industry, including a February report on cleaning company Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI), which was found employing children in grueling overnight shifts. These shifts left children with burns and other injuries. This bill comes as the latest in a series of proposed solutions to this problem in the food industry.

Cargill, the world’s largest ground beef producer, announced they will need months to cut ties with PSSI after the reported child labor abuses. Cargill began phasing out its work with the cleaning company in March, but their relationship will not be fully terminated until mid-May. While the Department of Labor has not accused Cargill of any wrongdoing, the Biden administration urged them and others in the meatpacking industry to review their supply chains for child labor abuse.

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