Operators of AC grocery stores fined $20K for child labor violations

A store front that has a logbehicles are parked in a with a red flag. Several
Bethel’s Alaska Commercial Company store. (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 amount of hours allowed by the government. Those violations include working more than 8 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 3 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 says 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 re-trained 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 more rural communities.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.