PAB - News and Information

ICCR Addresses Illegal Child Labor Used by Suppliers of Major Corporations
A boy about 13 years old with his back to the camera wearing a pink T-shirt, blue jeans, and flip-flops works on the wheel of a car with a set of socket wrenches on the ground.

By Caroline Boden
Director of Shareholder Advocacy, Mercy Investment Services

In early 2023, The New York Times reported on the use of illegal child labor, mostly unaccompanied migrant children, in the United States. These children were illegally employed by suppliers for some of the biggest U.S. companies, including in factories producing Cheerios for General Mills, dinner rolls sold at Walmart and Target, auto parts for Ford and GM, and cleaning meat processing plants that supply JBS, Tyson, and others. Since then, additional investigative reports may have exposed child labor violations in the restaurant, construction, and other sectors in the United States.

As minors, and especially as unaccompanied migrants, these children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Although the children weren’t employed directly by these major brands, their illegal employment by the suppliers violates these companies’ human rights policies and supplier codes of conduct, as well as U.S. child labor laws. Additionally, the principle of human rights due diligence outlines the responsibility of all actors within a value chain to identify, address, and remediate any potential or actual human rights violations.

Following the reporting, responsible investors and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) reached out to several of the named companies, including Target, Tyson, and Walmart, to understand how they were addressing the issue and engaging with the violating suppliers to prevent further harm. 

These conversations showed that most companies were surprised, as suppliers in  North America have generally been perceived as low risk for human rights violations. Most companies shared that they were investigating the violating suppliers and working to strengthen recruiting and hiring practices; however, public disclosure of companies’ efforts to address the violations and remediate the harm caused to the children is lacking.

As part of our shareholder advocacy work, the Adrian Dominican Sisters Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) is joining other investors and NGO partners to ask these companies to conduct human rights impact assessments for the region, especially given the high use of migrant labor in the United States. 

The PAB joined other Walmart shareholders in filing a shareholder proposal for the 2024 proxy season that addresses the child labor issue and requests the company conduct a human rights impact assessment. An ICCR partner filed a proposal asking Tyson to commission an independent report evaluating the effectiveness of their policies and practices to prevent illegal child labor throughout the company’s value chain. The proposal received 12.1% of the shareholder vote in favor.

Unfortunately, one of the responses to the child labor violations has been an effort in many states to roll back child labor protections, such as lowering the eligible age to work, allowing minors to work in hazardous work environments, and extending the number of hours that minors can work. As of February 2024, 28 states had introduced bills to weaken child labor laws, with 12 states enacting such legislation.


your Comment will be showing after administrator's approval

b i u quote

Save Comment
Showing 0 Comment

Recent Posts

Read More »

Portfolio Advisory Board,  Adrian Dominican Sisters | 1257 E. Siena Heights Drive | Adrian, Michigan 49221
Phone: (517) 266-3523 | Email our office: