Trump administration preparing green light to child labor


Back to the 19th century

Trump administration preparing green light to child labor

Patrick Martin

11 May 2018

The US Department of Labor is moving to lift longstanding restrictions on hazardous work by teenagers in nonagricultural employment. The agency gave notice of a proposed rule under the title, “Expanding Apprenticeship and Employment Opportunities for 16 and 17-Year Olds Under the FLSA.”

The FLSA is the Fair Labor Standards Act, first passed in 1938 as part of the Roosevelt-era “New Deal,” which gave legal sanction to the minimum wage and “time-and-a-half” overtime and outlawed what was termed “oppressive child labor.”

Despite the Orwellian language about “expanding opportunities” for young workers, the proposed new rule is really about expanding the opportunity for employers to exploit teenagers as low-wage labor, while dramatically increasing the risks that these children will be exposed to, as they operate heavy equipment and dangerous tools like chainsaws for much longer periods of time.

The abstract of the new rule, published May 9 as part of a semi-annual announcement of ongoing rule-making and rescissions across the entire federal government, notes that the Secretary of Labor issues “Hazardous Occupations Orders” (HOs) as “the means by which the Secretary declares certain occupations to be particularly hazardous” for young workers.

The abstract goes on to say, “In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Department will consider whether certain HOs as well as the conditions that apply to the employment of all apprentices and student learners in hazardous occupations, should be updated to reflect the current economic and work environments and to allow for safe and meaningful apprenticeship opportunities and student-learner…

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