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Inspired by Chicago Students, Quigley Secures Child Labor Prevention Language in Funding Bill

Jul 15, 2021
Press Release

Language authored by U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) to bring an end to the use of child labor in the cocoa industry was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations today. The initiative was inspired by a meeting Quigley held with a class at Bell Elementary School. The class shared their report on the use of child labor by the cocoa industry and asked that Quigley act, leading directly to the inclusion of this provision in the FY22 Labor-Health and Human Services bill. Quigley’s language directs the Department of Labor to produce a report on the ongoing use of child labor in the production of cocoa beans and to provide recommendations on how to reduce the practice.

“I was absolutely blown away by the students at Bell Elementary. Not only did they ask insightful questions during our visit but seeing this group of young people acting on behalf of other young people half a world away was deeply inspiring. I brought the information they shared with me back to my staff, reached out to USAID and the Department of Labor, and ultimately collaborated with the Appropriations Committee to include language in our funding legislation to combat this issue,” said Quigley.

Quigley continued, “The students I met with were horrified to know that something we all enjoy is produced by the suffering of children. I share their outrage and I am grateful to them for bringing this issue to my attention. This report from the Department of Labor is a critical step in understanding how we can bring an end to the use of child labor in the cocoa industry.”

In June, Quigley held a virtual meeting with a class of 8th grade students at Alexander Graham Bell School in Chicago, IL. During the visit, the students shared their serious concerns about the use of child labor in West Africa to produce some of their favorite candy products. Quigley brought those concerns back to Congress and pressed for the inclusion of a provision in the FY22 appropriations bills that could help bring an end to child labor in the cocoa industry.

A 2015 Department of Labor report showed that more than 2 million children were engaged in child labor in cocoa-growing regions, including West Africa, where more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced. Currently, no chocolate companies will guarantee that their products are free of child labor.

The Labor-HHS funding bill was passed out of the House Appropriations Committee earlier today. It now awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives.