If you thought child labor was a thing of the past, think again. A food sanitation company allegedly employed dozens of minors to clean slaughterhouse floors and butchering machines in Nebraska and Minnesota.

As reported by NBC News, Packers Sanitation Services, Inc (PSSI) reportedly employed dozens of children. Their job consisted in cleaning slaughterhouse floors during night shifts.

Loading the player...

The company is contracted to work in slaughterhouses and meat packing facilities. As explained by the Department of Labor, PSSI reportedly employed at least 31 children, one as young as 13. The children worked cleaning shifts at three facilities in Nebraska and Minnesota.

Oppressive child labor under the nation’s nose

According to the investigation, PSSI may have employed more children under similar conditions at 400 other facilities across the country.

About 100 of the children working are migrants, NBC News reported.

Although PSSI paid a $1.5 million fine and agreed to stop employing children, this is far from the last time migrant children will be exploited as labor.

One 16-year-old told NBC News that he is still cleaning blood and animal parts off the kill floor in Kansas up to seven nights a week.

The child reportedly used a false identity to get the job. Although the work is hard and dangerous, the boy told NBC News that “losing his paycheck would put him and his family in Guatemala in an impossible situation.”

A normalized new economy?

Apparently, PSSI is not the only American company employing migrant child labor in its facilities.

As the New York Times reported last month, dozens of migrant children have worked tending giant ovens to make Chewy and Nature Valley cereal bars in states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Virginia.

Speaking with up to 100 children, the Times found that young female workers work packing bags of Cheerios late into the night.

The factories are filled with underage workers who had crossed the southern border alone. Now, the children spend hours bent over dangerous machinery, violating child labor laws.

According to the Times, this is a new sweatshop economy.

Migrant children, who have arrived in the United States without their parents in record numbers, end up in some of the country’s most punishing jobs

“This shadow workforce extends across industries in every state, flouting child labor laws that have been in place for nearly a century,” the Times reported. “Twelve-year-old roofers in Florida and Tennessee. Underage slaughterhouse workers in Delaware, Mississippi, and North Carolina. Children sawing planks of wood on overnight shifts in South Dakota.”

Other jobs include washing dishes late at night and operating milking machines in Vermont or delivering meals in New York. Likewise, some children harvest coffee or build lava rock walls around vacation homes in Hawaii.

Migrant child labor benefits both underground operations and global corporations, the Times found.

“In Los Angeles, children stitch ‘Made in America’ tags into J. Crew shirts,” the report continues. 

“They bake dinner rolls sold at Walmart and Target, process milk used in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and help debone chicken sold at Whole Foods. As recently as the fall, middle schoolers made Fruit of the Loom socks in Alabama. In Michigan, children make auto parts used by Ford and General Motors.”

For Brandeis University professor David Weil, the situation is “really shocking.”

Speaking to NPR, Weil said it’s a situation that has “exploded in the last few years.”

“There’s always been problems of child labor in different sectors, but we haven’t seen such widespread numbers of children working in meatpacking and in auto manufacturing and food production since really the 1930s.”