The presentation left the room of students buzzing with questions.
“How many breaks do I receive when working a six-hour shift?” asked one student. “What happens if I don’t get my last paycheck when I quit my job?” asked another.
Each question was met with a response from either Garcia-Brower or Mejia, who talked through the various ways the LCO can intervene to support young workers if their rights are violated. Throughout the presentation, work experience teacher Ms. Justice interjected with additional details on how this information impacts minors, who hold special work permits in order to work while enrolled in school.
As the presentation concluded, Mejia asked the room why they were all working in the first place. It didn’t take long for a student to shoot their hand up.
“To survive and make a living.”
Although the response shocked some adults in the room, many students nodded and murmured in agreement. According to a new report by the UCLA Labor Center, 12% of young workers are heads of households, and 48% of high school young workers work 20 hours or more a week. The questions and experiences shared by Moreno Valley’s working students illuminated the importance of continuing to bring know-your-labor-rights education into California’s classrooms.
“I had a great experience being able to give back to my community,” said Gonzalez. “I look forward to seeing how we can further engage with the youth of Moreno Valley and expand these labor rights workshops to other school districts as well.”
LCO staff spent the following day at Canyon Springs High School with work experience coordinator Mr. James Oonten, where they kicked off a similar workshop.