KYUK AM

Operators Of AC Grocery Stores Fined $20K For Child Labor Violations

Oct 22, 2020

Alaska Commercial Company main store in Bethel, Alaska
Credit Dean Swope / KYUK

The grocer Alaska Commercial Company, also known as AC, has been fined $20,490 by the federal Department of Labor for child labor violations. 

Investigators from the federal Wage and Hour Division found that in the AC stores in Alaska, there were 30 workers between the ages of 14 and 15 working outside of the legal number of hours allowed by the government. Those violations include working more than eight hours a day, or more than 40 hours a week during non-school periods. During the school year, that threshold drops. Workers younger than 16 are supposed to work no more than three hours a day or 18 hours a week. 

“Child labor laws exist to strike a balance between providing a meaningful work experience for young people and keeping them safe on the job, ensuring that work does not jeopardize their health, well-being, or educational opportunities,” Wage and Hour Division Director Thomas Silva wrote in a statement.

AC Vice President of Operations Walt Pickett said that most of the violations came from three stores, and involved students working shifts after school. Children under the age of 16 are only allowed to work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“We are confident that it was an unintentional error and have retrained all of our managers on proper labor protocols involving minors,” Pickett said in an emailed statement.

Anchorage-based AC operates 33 grocery stores across Alaska, mostly in rural communities.