An $80 Billion Industry Looks for Child Workers. It Keeps Missing Them.

Private audits have failed to detect migrant children working for U.S. suppliers of Oreos, Gerber baby snacks, McDonald’s milk and an array of other products. Miguel Sanchez, 17, came alone to the United States and has been working at an industrial dairy for about two years. One morning in 2019, an auditor arrived at a meatpacking plant in rural Minnesota. He was there on behalf of the national drugstore chain Walgreens to ensure that the factory, which made the company’s house brand of beef jerky, was safe and free of labor abuses. He ran through a checklist of hundreds of possible problems, like locked emergency exits, sexual harassment and child labor. By the afternoon, he had concluded that the factory had no major violations. It could keep making jerky, and Walgreens customers could shop with a clear conscience. When night fell, another 150 workers showed up at the plant. Among them were migrant children who had come to the United States by themselves looking for work. Children as young as 15 were operating heavy machinery capable of amputating fingers and crushing bones. Migrant children would work at the Monogram Meat Snacks plant in Chandler, Minn., for almost four more years, until the Department of Labor visited this spring and found such severe child labor violations that it temporarily banned the shipment of any more jerky. In the past two decades, private audits have become the solution to a host of public relations headaches for corporations. When scandal erupts over labor practices, or shareholders worry about legal risks, or advocacy groups demand a boycott, companies point to these inspections as evidence that they have eliminated abuses in their supply chains. Known as social compliance audits, they have grown into an $80 billion global industry, with firms performing hundreds of thousands […]

See also  Amid US tech war, is China stuck in a middle-technology trap? Is it time to open its doors wider?

Click here to visit source. An $80 Billion Industry Looks for Child Workers. It Keeps Missing Them.

By Donato