Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Three Washington Strawberry Farms Busted for Child Labor Violations

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Strawberries tended by a person of legal working age. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Strawberries tended by a person of legal working age.

E. coli isn't the only problem plaguing strawberry farms in the Pacific Northwest. Last week three Washington State strawberry farms were fined for employing children as young as six years old to work in their fields.

Because most berry workers in the area are paid by how many berries they pick instead of an hourly wage, many struggle to make minimum wage. Many workers at large berry farms clear around $5 an hour, which leads to workers bringing their children into the fields to increase their yield. Washington's minimum wage is $8.67 an hour.

Kids are routinely picking 100 to 200 pounds of berries a day, work that's done while kneeling and stooping for long periods of time.

George Hoffman Farms, Columbia Fruit LLC, and Berry Good Farms were cited by the U.S. Department of Labor for minimum wage violations. The farm honchos, Marty Peterson, George Hoffman and Lee Nguyen, are required to take three years of training classes so they can understand why it's not right to let elementary school kids do hard manual labor because their parents are underpaid.

The three companies were fined a total of $73,000 for the nine underage children the feds found working in the fields. The farms are prohibited from selling the berries picked by underage workers.

Tags: ,

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

More by Robin Wheeler

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 30, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation