It is illegal in the United States to employ children. Children can start working at the age of 14 but there are a lot of restrictions surrounding hours. A Hyundai company in Alabama has been employing migrant kids as young as 12.
Underage workers, in some cases as young as 12, have been working at a Hyundai-owned metal stamping plant operated by SMART Alabama LLC in Alabama reports Reuters.
The brief disappearance of a Guatemalan migrant from her family’s home in Alabama in February brought the story to light. The thirteen-year-old girl’s father said that she and her twelve and fifteen-year-old brothers worked at the plant and did not attend school. Other plant employees confirmed that the children worked there.
“Consumers should be outraged,” said David Michaels, the former U.S. assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. “They should know that these cars are being built, at least in part, by workers who are children and need to be in school rather than risking life and limb because their families are desperate for income.”
Reports are that many underage children have been recruited to work at the plant, described as “a sprawling facility with a documented history of health and safety violations, including amputation hazards.”
Tabatha Moultry, 39, a former SMART employee, said the plant relied on migrant workers to keep up with high demand and remembered working with a migrant girl who “looked 11 or 12 years old.” “She was way too young to be working in that plant, or any plant,” Moutry said.
“Alabama and federal laws limit minors under age 18 from working in metal stamping and pressing operations such as SMART, where proximity to dangerous machinery can put them at risk.” And of course, children belong in school.
Hyundai said it “does not tolerate illegal employment practices at any Hyundai entity. We have policies and procedures in place that require compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.”
In a separate statement, SMART said the factory “denies any allegation that it knowingly employed anyone who is ineligible for employment,” and that “these agencies [are required] to follow the law in recruiting, hiring, and placing workers on its premises.”
And let the denials begin. There are so many problems with illegal immigration; this is just one of them. These children are being taken advantage of, by unscrupulous employers and by their own families, who are likely desperate. They aren’t following our laws to educate their children, which is an added issue. Do you think Hyundai was aware of what was happening?