As detailed in teacherken's recommended diary yesterday, Missouri state Senator Jane Cunningham has introduced a bill to eliminate child labor laws. In the state of Missouri. In the United States of America. In 2011. The AFL-CIO blog elaborates:
[L]et’s just use the official summary of the bill from the Missouri state Senate website and if you don’t believe me, click here and read it yourself.
- This act modifies the child labor laws.
- It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen.
- Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed.
- It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed.
- Children under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished.
- It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ.
- It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment.
This is absolutely insane.
Is it really that insane, though? I mean, this is just the natural evolution of a political philosophy which believes that rich people should be able to pay their employees nothing and treat them like beasts of burden. And in Missouri -- a state where, as Laura Clawson detailed earlier this week, a "right to work" (or, more accurately, "free-rider") bill prohibiting employers from entering into union security agreements with labor unions has a reasonable chance of passing -- it should hardly be surprising that Republicans are seeking to give children the "right" to work 40 hour weeks during the school year.
See, this is what the "right to work" is really about. It's got nothing to do with bettering the lives of workers on the job -- if Republicans wanted to do that, they'd be the strongest advocates or trade unionism this side of Mother Jones and Walter Reuther. After all, workers who have formed labor unions have safer workplaces, earn more money, and enjoy real retirement security. No, the "right to work" comes from pretty much the same place as the "right to work in a sweatshop upon attaining puberty." It's about one thing: making people work harder for less money, while minimizing any liability for the elites who rig the system, hoard the wealth, and wring the life out of the masses who toil for them. Once you start passing free rider laws, once you enshrine union-busting as a "right," it won't be long till you liberate America's kids from the shackles of schools and the oppressive, smothering nanny state, and put them to work in the mines.
So I'm not surprised by Senator Cunningham's bill to eliminate child labor laws. Hell, if you go to her official site, the first "news item" at the top of the page is a paean to the proposed free rider law. It's simply not that far of a leap from killing off labor unions to facilitating child labor. And if you don't see that now, just wait till the good Senator and her friends give you the "right to work."
"Today we conquer the unions - tomorrow the kids!"