Call to Action Text Field
In 1978, the United States government employed one labor inspector for every 69,000 workers. By 2018, the responsibility for each investigator had more than doubled to one inspector for every 175,000 workers.
This is the result of chronic underfunding of the federal agency charged with protecting workers and it means labor traffickers are able to operate with impunity because they are pretty sure no one is watching.
We have seen that play out to tragic effect over the last several years, Investigative reporting by The New York Times found migrant children as young as 12 working at car factories, meat processors and construction sites. The U.S. Labor Department found that in the last fiscal year, 835 companies employed more than 3,800 children in violation of federal labor laws, a 69 percent increase since 2018.
This is just one example of the many ways in which workers are able to be easily exploited because employers have no reasonable fear of consequences.
The U.S. Department of Labor must have the resources to hire, train and deploy inspectors who visit job sites and make sure workers are being treated fairly.
This is vital not just for the workers themselves but for the communities where they live. Exploitation and trafficking are, at bottom, economic crimes. Unscrupulous businesses who don’t pay their workers what they are owed create a race-to-the-bottom environment because other businesses have to compete with them on unfair grounds. Everyone’s wages are affected.
Call on your elected officials to fund the enforcement of existing labor laws, prevent labor trafficking of vulnerable workers, and provide economic security for everyone.