Consider this: Child labor

Reed Harris
Posted 4/23/24

America is divided over major efforts to rewrite child labor laws.

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Consider this: Child labor


Selected excerpts from the Washington Post article “America is divided over major efforts to rewrite child labor laws”, updated on April 5. This article can be found at:

In general, here is what they say about federal laws.  “Federal law forbids all minors from working in jobs deemed hazardous, including those in manufacturing, roofing, meatpacking and demolition. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds are not allowed to work past 7 p.m. on school nights or 9 p.m. on weekends.”  This has been the law of the land for quite some time.  In various states, however, some businesses have been pushing the envelope on these rules and states are beginning to revise their individual laws.

Here are some excerpts concerning what some states are doing:

“A Florida-based lobbying group, the Foundation for Government Accountability, which has fought to promote conservative interests such as restricting access to anti-poverty programs, drafted or lobbied for recent bills to strip child labor protections in at least six states.

Among them is Indiana’s new law enacted in March, repealing all work-hour restrictions for 16- and 17-year-olds, who previously couldn’t work past 10 p.m. or before 6 a.m. on school days.  The law also extends legal work hours for 14 and 15-year-olds.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law changes that allow 16 and 17-year-olds to work seven days in a row. It also removes all hour restrictions for teens in online school or home school, effectively permitting them to work overnight shifts.

An Iowa law signed last year by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) allows minors in that state to work in jobs previously deemed too hazardous, including in industrial laundries, light manufacturing, demolition, roofing and excavation, but not slaughterhouses. Separately, West Virginia enacted a law this month that allows 16 and 17-year-olds to work some roofing jobs as part of an apprenticeship program.

Meanwhile, Alabama, West Virginia, Missouri and Georgia are considering bills this year that would eliminate work permit requirements for minors, verifying age or parental or school permission to work.  Most states require these permits.  Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed a similar bill into law last year.

I do not write this article to provide my opinion of these laws, but to give you information and let you decide. So let’s talk about what the reasoning may be for them.  Let’s start with a sentence from the same Washington Post article that says; “Labor experts attribute the spike in child labor violations — which, a Post analysis shows, have tripled in 10 years — to a tight labor market that has prompted employers to hire more teens, as well as migrant children arriving from Latin America.”  This appears to be the driving factor for change.

So, why would you want to change the child labor laws and not want to put more Americans, who are unemployed, back to work?  And if the economy is so bad, like many think, where are all these jobs coming from?  Maybe these jobs are low wage jobs that employers do not want to pay living wages for.  This way they can skirt higher wages if they can get children to work extra hours at even more dangerous jobs that normally get high pay.

Another interesting note is that there are many migrant children working at these jobs now.  I thought that many of us were against migration into this country and wanted to close our borders to it?  Is this why, in the long run, an immigration bill never gets passed?  Because we can use certain immigrants to do the work our own people won’t do?  Although, migrants and immigrants have two different definitions, I feel that those people in American that make moves to work and make their lives better, do not do so to work these types of jobs.  Or maybe that is why the recent heavy push towards closing our borders.  We don’t want immigrants to do those jobs our own children could do.

Hopefully, the laws are not being changed to allow us to put our children to work so that we have extra cash to spend.  More likely, it is to have that extra cash to pay bills.  However, are either of these reasons enough to put our children to work for more hours or at more dangerous jobs?

Could it be that putting more work on our children is just one of the many reason that some people are so ready to dump our democracy?  It would definitely be easier to change or eliminate our laws if we had a different form of government.  Maybe many think that laws restrict our freedoms. But, is this true? I believe that most of our laws are enacted to protect our freedoms.  So that businesses, individuals, and, yes, even our governing bodies don’t take them away.