Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley sent a letter to Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King requesting answers regarding allegations that the company took part in “dangerous and illegal child labor practices.”
In a press release issued on Tuesday, Hawley explained that he had sent the letter after reading a report from the New York Times (NYT) detailing how chicken processing plants such as Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms have hired migrant children. In several instances, migrant children working these jobs have either suffered from severe injuries or died.
“I am alarmed by new reports that Tyson Foods have actively participated in dangerous and illegal child labor practices,” Hawley wrote in his letter. “According to a lengthy report published yesterday in the New York Times, the poultry processing industry has regularly contracted with companies that employ child workers and subjected those children to highly unsafe working conditions.”
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 19, 2023
The NYT report references a story about a now 15-year-old boy, Marcos Cux who had been working at a chicken slaughterhouse run by Perdue Farms. During one of his shifts, Cux reached into the conveyor belt after seeing a piece of a torn rubber glove. At that moment, another worker, who had not seen Cux reach into the conveyor belt turned the machine on.
Cux, who had been crouched down with his left arm inside the conveyor belt, was pulled across the floor.
“Hard plastic teeth ripped through his muscles, tearing open his forearm down to the bone,” the report read. “By the time someone heard his screams and shut off the power, his arm was limp, a deep triangular gash running down the length of it. A rope of white tendons hung from his elbow to his wrist, horrifying the workers who gathered around him.”
In his letter, Hawley references this first story and several others. In another instance, Maria Escalante, an inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) who worked for Perdue Farms during the cleaning shift said she had tried to locate an injured teenager who had broken his leg after falling off a ladder at Tyson Foods.
“It’s hard because they’re working under other names,” Escalante told the outlet.
“Any company that employs, facilitates, encourages, or excuses child labor must be held to account,” Hawley continued in his letter. “In light of the facts, you owe the American people an explanation as to Tyson’s child-labor practices.”
Haley concluded his letter by requesting the answers to several questions by the end of the week.
In March, Packers Sanitation Services Inc. was penalized $1.5 million after an investigation found several minors at Tyson Foods locations were working overnight shifts and in unsafe conditions.
In July, several Senate Republicans, including Hawley, released a video slamming President Joe Biden of “failing to secure the border” and for the increase in unaccompanied migrant children, accusing him of creating the “largest child trafficking ring” in the history of the United States.
Since 2021, more than 300,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been reported to have entered the United States.
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