Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's (WDC) Urban Milwaukee article spelled it out quite clearly; unregulated child labor is back with a vengeance.
And you thought parent knew what was best for the kids education, a familiar refrain to school privateers? Not anymore. Now parents don't have any control over teens 16 and 17 who want to work.
WDC pointed out how two laws passed under Walker will make child exploitation a walk in the park for Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce, who has been backing legislation that envisions children manning dangerous machines again without regulatory accountability.
The GOP-controlled legislature has given final approval and sent to Republican Gov. Scott Walker a bill that would loosen child labor laws. Assembly Bill 25 removes the requirement for 16- and 17-year-olds to obtain permits signed by a parent or guardian in order to work. The measure was approved on a party line 20-12 vote. Democrats maintain the bill would allow children to make important life decisions that could adversely affect their educations — against their parents’ wishes.Welcome back to those nostalgic days of pre-Depression labor. Oddly, Republicans chose not to narrowly define the bill to accomplish their stated goal...I wonder why?
Republicans said the measure would make it easier to secure jobs for children who have parents who are incarcerated or otherwise absent.Pair this bill with the law passed in 2011... and we're almost there:
In 2011, Walker signed into law a provision in the 2011-13 state budget which eliminated restrictions on 16- and 17-year-olds working more than 26 hours during a school week and more than 50 hours a week during vacations.I didn't even know these restrictions were lifted. Milwaukee Gazette pointed out...:
The Child Labor Coalition said that change allowed employers to leverage cheap child labor to avoid paying a living wage.A more nefarious reason for the law? The Wisconsin AFL-CIO explained:
“Research suggests that when teens work more than 20 hours a week, their grades go down, they drop out of school more often, and they have more behavioral issues,” said coalition coordinator Reid Maki of the 2011 law. “By allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to work unlimited hours during the school week, Wisconsin legislators are failing Wisconsin teens … the legislators who did this should be ashamed.”
Supporters of the bill claim that the signature requirement is a hurdle that keeps some kids out of the workforce. In reality, if no parent or guardian is available, a DWD officer can sign off for a child worker. These officers are funded by a $10 permit fee paid by the employer. A portion of the fee also goes to the state’s General Treasury. By eliminating this fee, Republicans are cutting funding for the enforcement of child labor laws and at a time when every penny counts needlessly reducing state revenue.Just before passage, here's what legislators had to say, noting the bizarre Republican reason that parents don't need a government permit to be a parent like this...
Rep. Amy Loudenbeck: "...what we're hearing from the kids...Jamial (inaudible) who was on the front page of the Journal Sentinel a couple of weeks ago, who scored a perfect 10 on the ACES...you know what, she falsified her parents signature on the work permit, got her first job at Goodwill and told us it was the best thing that happened to her..."Now that's something to base legislation on. Upside Down Rep. Jim Steineke unintentionally flaunted his own hypocrisy when he accused Democrats of opposing parental signatures for abortions, but requiring them for work permits. Ah, Jim, don't you want a parents signature for abortions but now hypocritically don't a parents consent for a work permit? Doh!!!
From the Republican arguments here, what's next, letting kids decide what school to go to?
Texas bill goes well beyond Wisconsin's: Do Republicans hate unions? We should be thankful the Walker administration didn't insist on going this far:
If the bill passes, children as young as 14 will be able to enter into an employment agreement with most employers without parental consent, but they will not be permitted to join a union without a signed parental consent.
There appears to be no problem for which this bill is a solution. Texas has long been a right-to-work state, which means that any worker who is represented by a union can choose to pay no dues ... the bill positions unions as something that children need to be protected from. It hardly seems coincidental that the bill “protecting” children from unions is in the same packet as bills protecting children from sex offenders or a parent who sexually assaults the other parent. The bill treats unions not as organizations that represent and work on behalf of workers, but as something that preys on innocent children.