National campaign launches to address recent child labor law violations, rollbacks.

End US Child Labor

Green America Joins 30+ Organizations to Demand Urgent Action

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 20, 2024 - On this World Social Justice Day, the Campaign to End US Child Labor calls for justice for the hundreds of thousands of children across the United States who are forced to work, often in hazardous conditions. Since 2015, US child labor violations have increased 300 percent and in the last three years alone instead of protecting children 28 states have sought to roll back child labor laws. More than 30 organizations including community organizations, human rights and faith groups, think tanks, and trade unions have come together to say enough is enough, launching the Campaign to End US Child Labor to demand that urgent action be taken to protect children across the United States. The Campaign’s Shared Agenda is available here.

Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director for Consumer & Corporate Engagement at Green America, said: “Green America, which represents over 250,000 US consumers, has a long history advocating for an end to child labor in cocoa-producing countries such as Ivory coast and Ghana. Very sadly, we now must do the same right here in the United States.”

In the last two years, awareness of child labor has surged in public and political debate highlighted by alarming and tragic stories of children, some as young as 10, found working in fast food franchises, performing hazardous work in meat-packing facilities, auto supply factories, and prohibited roofing jobs, among other industries. Behind the headlines are deep-rooted, interrelated injustices keeping hundreds of thousands of children working legally and illegally in exploitative child labor conditions.

The rise in violations uncovered in recent years can be attributed to increased enforcement.  However, currently there is only one inspector for every 230,000 US workers thus making it challenging to reach those children still being exploited and send a stronger signal to employers.

In numerous states the response to this crisis has been to sacrifice children’s interests by weakening protections.  New state laws and proposed legislation across these states make it easier to hire children regardless of interference with schooling, remove requirements for employers to verify workers’ ages, and further put children at risk by allowing them to perform hazardous work.

Jean Tong, Labor Justice Campaigns Director at Green America, said: “A sustainable and equitable economy cannot be built off the backs of children, especially the exploitation of migrant children. We have learned that consumers will pay a fair price for child-labor free chocolate. Hence, companies can and must take the high road to drastically eradicate the worst form of child labor right here in our own backyard.”

The Campaign is calling for these commonsense actions from federal and state government and other relevant stakeholders:

  • Protect unaccompanied minor children
  • Close child labor loopholes between agricultural and non-agricultural work
  • Increase enforcement and establish stronger consequences for child labor violations
  • Create legislation that holds corporations to account
  • Develop stronger labor rights laws and working conditions
  • Establish a social protection system which prevents all children and families from falling into poverty

We must acknowledge our child labor crisis across the United States.  Now is not the time to take us back to the days when it was commonplace for children to be toiling on farms and in factories. “There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children,” said Nelson Mandela.  This Campaign seeks to make the world’s wealthiest country provide basic protections to all the children within its borders.  

For more information about the Campaign to End US Child Labor, please visit



100 Million Campaign US

American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

Center for Law and Social Policy

Child Labor Coalition

Children's Advocacy Institute

Department of Latin American and Latino Studies at University of Illinois Chicago

Economic Policy Institute

Fair Labor Association

Farmworker Justice

Florida Policy Institute

Food Empowerment Project

GlobalWorks Foundation

Global March Against Child Labor

GoodWeave International

Grace Farms

Green America

HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP

Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation US

Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University 

Media Voices for Children

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Consumers League

National Education Association (NEA)
Phoenix Zones Initiative

School Sisters of Notre Dame Collective Investment Fund

Shine Global Inc.
Tendai Initiative

The Centre for Child Rights and Business

The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Immigration and Ending Human Trafficking

     Justice Circle

United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS)


Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Women’s Refugee Commission

Individuals (affiliations are listed for identification purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement from their affiliated institutions)

Soledad Alvarez Velasco, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois Chicago

Mark Anner, Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, and Political Science;

     Director, Center for Global Workers’ Rights, The Pennsylvania State University

Xóchitl Bada, Associate Professor & Director of Graduate Studies, Department of

     Latin American and Latino Studies, University of Illinois Chicago

Dr. Linda Forst, Professor Physician, University of Illinois Chicago

Professor Jonathan Fox, Accountability Research Center at American University

Judy Gearhart, Research Professor, Accountability Research Center at American


Shannon Gleeson, Faculty, Cornell University

Shareen Hertel, Wiktor Osiatyński Chair of Human Rights & Professor of Political

     Science, University of Connecticut

Linda Schmid, International Development Adviser, Trade in Services International

Dr. Stephen Silvia, American University


MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin for Green America, (703) 276-3255, or


Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.