Cleaning company accused of using child labor in Grand Island

Nov. 11, 2022, midnight ·

Court document in child labor case (Screenshot from court website)
Court document in child labor case (Screenshot from court website)

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A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order to keep a company from using child labor to clean meatpacking plants, including one in Grand Island.

Judge John Gerrard issued the order against Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. at the request of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department says Packers employed at least 31 children, some as young as 13 years old, for jobs including cleaning dangerous power equipment on overnight shifts at three meatpacking plants. The Department says they worked at three plants, including one owned by JBS Swift in Grand Island, Nebraska.

The Department says several minors employed by Packers Sanitation suffered caustic chemical burns and other injuries. And it alleges the company interfered with the department’s investigation by intimidating teenaged workers and manipulating employment files.

Packers Vice President Gina Swenson says the company absolutely prohibits employing anyone under age 18 and will vigorously defend itself against the government’s claims. JBS Swift Ethics and Compliance Officer Michael Koenig says the company is taking the allegations against Packers seriously and is evaluating the situation.

Judge Gerrard scheduled a further hearing on the matter for November 23.