Zachary Sklar: The Work: A Jigsaw Memoir and Exploiting The Labor Of Migrant Children

Zachary Sklar: The Work: A Jigsaw Memoir

Screenwriter and journalist Zachary Sklar grew up in Hollywood as, in his words, a child of the blacklist.” His fine book The Work: A Jigsaw Memoir has just been published. We will speak with him today.

In the 1950s, Zachs father George Sklar, a playwright and screenwriter, was blacklisted from the movie industry for his past membership in the Communist Party. His mother, Miriam Blecher, was a modern dancer in the Martha Graham company and founding director of The New Dance Group. During the McCarthy era, many of their friends were hauled in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, calIed HUAC. Several of them fled the country. Others were imprisoned. As a result, Zach grew up in an atmosphere of all-pervasive fear.

Richard Nixon rode to power on fear. After he retired, a reporter asked him what his secret was. He replied instantly, It was fear, fear, and they dont teach you that in the Boy Scouts.

Zachs beautiful collection of personal essays tells his story of how he overcame the fear he experienced as a child growing up in Hollywood during the blacklist years.

Guest – Zachary Sklar is a writer, editor, and teacher. A graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, he has taught magazine writing at that institution and also has served as the executive editor of The Nation magazine. Zach Sklar edited several books about the CIA for Sheridan Square Press, including Ari Ben-Menashes Profits of War and New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison’s bestselling On the Trail of the Assassins, which makes the case that the CIA was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Zach later co-wrote with Oliver Stone the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the movie JFK. He has been a creative adviser at Sundance Screenwriting Labs for more than two decades, and currently teaches screenwriting for the Harlem Dramatic Writing Workshop in New York. Zach Sklar was a friend of our shows co-founder Michael Ratner and edited Michael’s memoir Moving the Bar: My Life as a Radical Lawyer.


Exploiting The Labor Of Migrant Children

The New York Times headline, in its February 25th edition, says it all: Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S. Yes, last year 130,000 unaccompanied minors entered the United States, and last year the federal agency responsible for placing these children in suitable situations as their cases are processed, lost track of at least 85,000 of them. But we know where all too many of them can be found: working 10-12 hours a day in violation of our nations child labor laws in the American supply chain for many major brands and retailersretailers like Ford and General Motors. Retailers like Walmart and General Mills, whose brands include Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Nature Valley, and PepsiCo, which owns Frito-Lay and Quaker Oatsand the list goes on.

So, underaged children, here in the U.S., and needing to earn money to send to their destitute families back home, or pay off the smuggler who brought them to the United States, are working under long, unsafe and exploited conditions, for some of Americas largest corporations. Never mind that the federal child labor provisions, authorized by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, also known as the child labor laws, were enacted to ensure that when minors do work, the work is safe and does not jeopardize their health, well-being or educational opportunities, and that sets age limits for various types of work.
As we will shortly learn from our guest for this topic today, that Act is being violated over and over again in 2023. Twelve-year old roofers in Florida and Tennessee, underage slaughterhouse workers in Bidens home state, Delaware, and children sawing planks of wood on overnight shifts in South Dakota. The shame of this should be mind boggling for the American people. But as we now begin interviewing todays guest, this is still the despicable reality of the lives of these minors now in our country.

Guest – Professor Sara Rogerson, the Director of the Justice Center at Albany Law School, where she is also the faculty Director of the Immigration Law Clinic, in which students represent immigrant victims of crime. Her scholarship addresses flaws in the administration of immigration laws and policy, including intersections with domestic violence and international law.

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