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Hawaiian Coffee Farms Fined for Labor Violations

Fri, 02/22/2013 - 12:26pm

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Department of Labor is fining seven Big Island coffee farms and farm labor contractors $42,000 for violating labor laws.

The department said Thursday it imposed the penalties after finding many workers who hand-harvested or processed coffee cherries weren't paid legally required wages.

The violations included paying workers below the minimum wage and failing to pay workers for all hours worked.

A farm labor contractor found to have violated child labor laws is paying the biggest fine — $16,000.

Five companies also must pay back wages totaling $63,000 to 150 employees.

The department says the Kona Coffee Council has agreed to promote labor law compliance among its membership and has established a code of conduct.

The council represents 170 farmers, processors and others in the industry.

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