Big Island coffee farmers, labor contractors fined
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.