8. DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

Minnesota meatpacker to pay $300,000 to settle child-labor penalties

Minnesota meatpacker to pay 0,000 to settle child-labor penalties
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Minnesota meatpacker to pay $300000 to settle child-labor penalties  MEAT+POULTRY

Minnesota Meat Processor Fined $300,000 for Child Labor Violations

Minnesota meatpacker to pay $300,000 to settle child-labor penalties

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) confirmed on Sept. 8 that a meat processor will pay $300,000 in penalties after its investigation found minors working in hazardous jobs.

Violation of State Labor Laws

The state agency said that Tony Downs Food Company employed at least eight minors between the ages of 14 and 17 who were operating meat-processing equipment, violating state labor laws.

Investigation Details

An audit focused on a time period between Jan. 26, 2021, to Jan. 26, 2023. The DLI alleged that teenage employees were operating the company’s meat grinders, ovens, and forklifts during overnight shifts.

When the investigation started, DLI officials conducted an overnight on-site visit to Tony Downs. After that initial visit, the agency filed a temporary restraining order in March.

DLI’s Commitment to Combating Child Labor Violations

“The consequences of child labor violations are substantial and the Department of Labor and Industry is committed to combatting these violations,” said Nicole Blissenbach, commissioner of the DLI. “This is why DLI is focused on strategic enforcement of the Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act, devoting investigatory resources on industries where violations are most likely to occur and using all available mechanisms to aggressively enforce the law. In this case, Tony Downs has agreed to take important steps to prevent child labor violations.”

Consent Order and Penalties

A consent order was filed at the Fifth District Court in Watonwan County, Minnesota, where Tony Downs agreed to comply with the Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act at its facilities and to pay $300,000 in administrative penalties.

Additionally, it will hire a third-party compliance specialist within 90 days to provide training and adopt or revise policies and procedures. The order states that Tony Downs agreed to these conditions for three years.

Response from Tony Downs Foods

Following DLI’s investigation, David Ross, vice president of human resources for Tony Downs, released a statement to MEAT+POULTRY regarding the penalties.

“We agreed to this settlement and compliance program in order to return our full attention to what we do best – working with our employee team to provide our customers and their consumers with quality food products,” Ross said. “But in agreeing to this settlement, Tony Downs Foods does not admit to the violations of law in our employment practices alleged by Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). We cooperated fully with DLI’s investigation and this civil agreement is not an admission of any unlawful act. We believe that the administrative penalty included in the settlement was grossly disproportionate, not supported under the law, and an attempt by the DLI to make our family-owned company an example for a serious issue that is pervasive among employers in the food sector and many other industries across the US. As we have stated repeatedly, Tony Downs does not, and did not, knowingly hire workers who are under 18 years of age in production areas.”

Tony Downs Foods added that even before the investigation that it used the federal E-Verify program to hire employees who are required to provide government-issued identification that they are eighteen years or older.

“Every new employee must attest to their date of birth on the Form I-9 they complete no later than on the first day of employment,” Ross said. “We have conducted additional training for our human resources and supervisory staff on I-9 forms and the use of the E-Verify system, as well as how to recognize signs that an individual may be using false identification and may not be of legal employment age. In addition, we have contracted with an experienced compliance professional who will work with us as we continue to improve our policies, training, and hiring process.”

Child Labor Laws in Minnesota

The Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act prohibits companies from employing minors in hazardous occupations. It also does not allow minors under 16 years of age to work after 9 p.m., more than eight hours a day, or more than 40 hours a week.

Other Child Labor Investigations

Several other child labor investigations have occurred in Minnesota and other parts of the United States in 2023.

The DLI investigation comes after Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) agreed to pay $1.5 million in civil penalties in February after the US Department of Labor found at least 102 workers from 13 to 17 years of age were cleaning meatpacking plants.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 4: Quality Education
  • SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

  • SDG 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
  • SDG 4.4: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship.
  • SDG 16.2: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

  • Indicator for SDG 8.7: Number of children engaged in child labor in hazardous work.
  • Indicator for SDG 4.4: Percentage of youth and adults with relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment.
  • Indicator for SDG 16.2: Number of cases of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and violence against children.

4. Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth Target 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor. Indicator: Number of children engaged in child labor in hazardous work.
SDG 4: Quality Education Target 4.4: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship. Indicator: Percentage of youth and adults with relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions Target 16.2: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children. Indicator: Number of cases of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and violence against children.

The article highlights the issue of child labor in a meat processing company in Minnesota. This issue is connected to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) addresses the eradication of forced labor and the elimination of the worst forms of child labor. SDG 4 (Quality Education) aims to provide relevant skills for employment to youth and adults. SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) focuses on ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and violence against children.

Based on the content of the article, specific targets under these SDGs can be identified. Target 8.7 aims to eradicate forced labor and eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Target 4.4 aims to increase the number of youth and adults with relevant skills for employment. Target 16.2 aims to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and violence against children.

The article mentions indicators that can be used to measure progress towards these targets. For SDG 8.7, the indicator is the number of children engaged in child labor in hazardous work. For SDG 4.4, the indicator is the percentage of youth and adults with relevant skills for employment. For SDG 16.2, the indicator is the number of cases of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and violence against children.

In summary, the article addresses the SDGs of Decent Work and Economic Growth, Quality Education, and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. The specific targets identified are the eradication of forced labor and the worst forms of child labor, the increase in relevant skills for employment, and the end of abuse and exploitation against children. The indicators mentioned in the article can be used to measure progress towards these targets.

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: meatpoultry.com

 

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