Bolingbrook manufacturing plant accused of using child labor: 'Unacceptable'

Illinois workers' rights groups claim children are working illegally in warehouses in Bolingbrook and they are pushing for laws to stop the practice and to protect whistleblowers.

Demonstrators gathered in the rain Monday outside Hearthside Foods, a warehouse where packaged goods are processed. They alleged Hearthside contracts child labor through 3rd party staffing agencies. 

The Chicago Workers Collaborative found workers to corroborate the troubling claims. They said the child laborers are as young as 13, 14, 15, often unaccompanied minors who are easy to isolate.

Lawmakers hope to stop it.


State Representative Edgar Gonzalez, of Little Village said he talked to a worker at Hearthside who told him minors are used to work with machines because their hands are faster than the older workers. She reported it and she felt targeted for punishment because she is undocumented.

"The fact we have got kids working in warehouses all across the country doing dangerous jobs is unacceptable. It’s something we are fighting here to change," Andrew Herrera of The Chicago Workers Collaborative said.

They’re pushing for a Whistleblowers Right of Action Law.

FOX 32 reached out to Hearthside Foods for a statement. The company has not responded.