During the Global Tobacco Networking Forum, held at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Spring, WV, on October 3rd, FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez held a briefing on “How to End Child Labor in US Tobacco Fields.” During the briefing Baldemar explained that although stronger child labor laws are good, in and of themselves these laws will not solve the problem of child labor. “Children have to work in tobacco to help their families to survive because their parents don’t earn living wages.” said Baldemar, “if child labor is to be eliminated, we really have to address all these issues, which leads us to the heart of the problem.” When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act into law, agricultural workers were excluded from this law. Now President Velasquez asks the tobacco companies to modernize labor relations in agriculture and give farm workers and small farmers the right to bargain with the corporations who use their labor. There were eleven tobacco executives who attended the Briefing including representatives from Imperial Tobacco, Alliance One, and Universal Leaf. A staff member from End Child Labor in Tobacco Foundation was present and Simon Steyne, ILO IPEC director also attended the briefing. The briefing closed with a prayer from Rev. Jim Lewis, an episcopal priest from Charleston, WV.
“The tobacco companies and leaf merchants have a responsibility to put into practice the human rights protocols they espouse including the elimination of child labor and freedom of association and not waiting for government action.” Said Baldemar Velasquez.
You can find the briefing by clicking here How to End Child Labor in US Tobacco Fields.