President Donald Trump’s new budget guts funding for the federal agency that oversees and polices the exploitation of child laborers and forced workers around the world.
Reveal News reported Friday that Trump plans to cut $60 million from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, which fights child labor, human trafficking and slavery around the world.
“The preliminary budget of President Donald Trump’s administration would eliminate $60 million in grants from the bureau’s budget, calling them ‘largely noncompetitive and unproven,’” wrote Reveal News’ Jennifer Gollan. “It suggested that the agency instead focus its efforts ‘on ensuring that U.S. trade agreements are fair for American workers.’”
The cuts would cripple the government’s ability to monitor child exploitation around the world and potentially interfere with tenets of 13 separate trade agreements. Furthermore, the measures would ultimately have the opposite effect of what the president intends. By allowing other countries to exploit child workers and other laborers, U.S. workers will be put at a disadvantage for using fair labor practices.
Obama-era director Labor Secretary Carol Pier said that there is a “huge logical disconnect” between Trump’s stated desire to protect U.S. workers and the actual outcome of the law.
“These programs help to level the global playing field,” Pier said.
Gollan said, “The bureau has provided grants for projects on topics such as seafood processing in Thailand to gold mining in Colombia. It also helps other countries enforce labor standards and produces a list of goods associated with child or forced labor from countries around the world. The bureau also investigates complaints of violations of labor provisions in free trade agreements, including NAFTA.”
“This is an example of a move that’s really penny wise but pound foolish,” said Jo Becker –advocacy director of the children’s rights division at Human Rights Watch. “It’s 0.4 percent of the Department of Labor budget, but it packs a big punch. The U.S. has been the largest supporter of eradicating child and forced labor worldwide.”