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20 November 2011

Repudiation: Newt Gingrich calls Child Labor Laws "Truly Stupid"

The Republican Party has been going after unions, most notably in Wisconsin and Ohio but in many other states as well.  Now former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is going after one of the notable accomplishments of organized labor, child labor laws.  As covered by CNN, Mr. Gingrich spoke at Harvard University on Friday.
"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child laws which are truly stupid," Gingrich said. "Saying to people you shouldn't go to work before you're 14, 16. You're totally poor, you're in a school that's failing with a teacher that's failing."
Gingrich then proposed a system he said would help those students rise from poverty.
"I tried for years to have a very simple model. These schools should get rid of unionized janitors, have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work; they'd have cash; they'd have pride in the schools. They'd begin the process of rising."
The efforts to defund and privatize public schools are now extending to doing away with janitors?  Perhaps we should first look at some of the basics of the federal child labor laws, part of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • While minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, with a few exceptions, one of the big exceptions is that children can be paid as little as $4.25 per hour during their first 90 consecutive days of employment.
  • Students who are 14 - 15 years old are limited to three hours of work on school days, eight hours of work on non-school days, and forty hours per non-school week.
  • Students who are 14 - 15 years old may not work in manufacturing, mining, or other hazardous employment.
  • Students who are 16 - 17 years old may not work in hazardous employment but are not subject to limited hours.
Children under the age of 12 are allowed to do agricultural work with their parents' permission.  Unlike non-agricultural work, there are no hour limitations on children doing farm labor (other than that it must be outside of school hours for children under the age of 16).

Mr. Gingrich is proposing allowing students to work so much more that the likelihood of them graduating from high school and then college will be severely undermined.  The child labor laws were designed so that students would be able to focus on their studies instead of on working to survive.  The division of the haves and have-nots, the erosion of the middle class, would be exacerbated by Mr. Gingrich's "very simple model".

Thanks to Addicting Info for the heads up.

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