ONEONTA – An investigation into child-labor practices has been opened by the state Department of Labor into the local sect of the Twelve Tribes group following a report by Inside Edition that showed children working in a cosmetics factory on the Common Sense Farm in Cambridge.
An “Inside Edition” investigative report, which used hidden camera footage gathered by a former member of the Twelve Tribes, aired Friday, June 1. In it, children as young as six years old are allegedly working on the farm and in the factory, which produces cosmetics for the organic Acure and Savannah Bee lines.
Following the episode’s airing, an investigative team from the Department of Labor Worker Protection unit conducted an on-site investigation at Common Sense Farm. The team found multiple violations involving 12 minors who were engaged in factory work, which is prohibited.
As a result of these violations, the DOL has opened cases that could result in significant fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.
According to the Times Journal, both Acure and Savannah Bee have pulled their products from the Cambridge Factory following the report.
“The public has put its trust in our agency to protect New York’s workers, and of all the labor violations we see, those against children are some of the most abhorrent,” said Roberta Reardon, the state Commissioner of Labor. “All children have the right to be protected. The Labor Department will aggressively enforce the state’s labor laws that guard all workers, especially children.”
Locally, the Twelve Tribes operate the Yellow Deli at 134 Main St. The local sect, as well as sects in Hamburg, Ithaca, Oak Hill and Coxsackie, are also being investigated.