Federal probe. Perdue, Tyson's use of migrant children in cleaning roles

26.09.2023 posted by Admin

Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods under scrutiny for migrant child labor

Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods are currently facing a federal inquiry after allegations emerged that migrant children were hired to clean the meat-processing plants of these poultry industry giants during late-night shifts. Shockingly, one young teenager suffered a severe injury when his arm was caught in a sharp deboning machine.

The United States Department of Labor has confirmed that they are investigating a Tyson plant and a separate Perdue facility, both located in Virginia. However, no specific details can be disclosed at this stage as these investigations are ongoing, according to a spokesperson from the agency.

Perdue, a supplier of fresh and frozen chicken, lists six "AgriBusiness" locations in Virginia on its website. In contrast, Tyson's website indicates just one chicken processing plant in the state, situated in Temperanceville.

Although a Perdue spokesperson claimed not to have been informed of any investigation, the company's website features a statement committing to assume responsibility and cooperate fully with any governmental inquiry related to the matter.

The investigation was prompted by a recent expose in The New York Times Magazine, which uncovered the story of a 14-year-old boy named Marcos Crux. Marcos was working the night shift at a Perdue-operated chicken slaughterhouse in Accomack County, Virginia, which processes a staggering 1.5 million chickens every week.

During a six-hour shift, which earned Marcos approximately $100, equivalent to over a month's salary in his native Guatemala, he suffered a traumatic accident when he was pulled into a conveyor belt, severely injuring his left forearm. Fortunately, doctors managed to save his arm using skin grafts from his thigh. Shockingly, Marcos was not the only young teenager employed to clean Perdue's plant during the midnight-to-5 a.m. shift.

According to workers' accounts shared with The Times, one-third of the overnight cleaning crew at the Perdue plant consisted of children. These young workers were all reportedly hired by Fayette Industrial, a cleaning company based in Tennessee, contracted by Perdue to clean the facility, including its bloodied floors and razor-sharp machinery, using a high-pressure hose that sprayed scalding hot water at temperatures of 130 degrees.

Fayette Industrial also allegedly collaborates with QSI Sanitation, a company linked to Tyson through the chemical sanitation conglomerate known as The Vincit Group, as reported by The Times. This association is also under federal investigation.

Marcos Crux secured the job over a year ago with the assistance of a middle-school classmate who was already working at the Perdue plant. At the tender age of 13, he purchased forged documents for $800, falsely identifying himself as a man in his 20s named Francisco. He then donned rubber overalls, steel-toed rubber boots, and two layers of gloves to safeguard against chemical burns.

His journey to the United States from Guatemala involved crossing the border, as his parents were aware that unaccompanied minors were permitted to enter the country under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, designed to protect children seeking refuge in America from potential harm. His family staked their land and paid an adult $6,000 to ensure Marcos's safe passage to the United States. He eventually found himself residing with a cousin situated between two of Virginia's largest employers: a Perdue plant and a Tyson Foods plant, collectively responsible for producing one-third of the nation's poultry supply.

Andrea Staub, a spokesperson for Perdue, expressed the company's deep concern about the recent allegations and disclosed that a comprehensive third-party audit of child labor prevention and protection procedures, including compliance audits of contractors, is underway. She reiterated the company's intention to fully cooperate with any government inquiry into this matter. However, representatives for Tyson Foods and Fayette Industrial did not respond immediately to requests for comment from The Post.

Despite regulations prohibiting minors from engaging in hazardous occupations such as cleaning slaughterhouses and construction work, cases involving 13- and 14-year-olds working in these perilous conditions have unfortunately emerged in the past. In May, the Department of Labor released distressing photographs depicting children as young as 13, outfitted with protective gear, toiling for Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) at a meat processing plant in Grand Island, Nebraska. These young workers were likely responsible for cleaning floors and machinery tainted with blood, as well as handling dangerous tools like back saws, head splitters, and brisket saws, often using powerful chemicals and hot water, according to an investigator from the federal agency who spoke with "60 Minutes" anchor Scott Pelley earlier this year.
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