In the context of U.S. child labor, what would fairness look like?

For me fairness would be treating working children the same under US law. Since 1938 and the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the US has discriminated against children who do farm work, allowing them to work unlimited hours at the age of 12.

It’s not uncommon to see migrant farmworker children at 12 working beside the impoverished parents for 12-14 hours a day.

On very small farms kids are allowed to work at even younger ages.

A 12-year-old is not allowed to work in an air-conditioned office, but the law permits them to do back-breaking work on a farm for 14 hours in 100 degree heat.

And loopholes allow children working for wages on farms to do dangerous tasks at 16 when they have to be 18 in all other work places.

To make things worse, the Trump administration has signaled that it is considering trying to remove protections that help keep kids stay safe in dangerous jobs on roofs, in wood-working shops, in machine shops, in meat-processing plants, and at excavation sites.

The administration is even trying to reverse the ban on children applying pesticides on commercial farms.

Let’s fight for fairness and for equitable child labor laws. Let’s fight for regulations that protect all children and don’t expose impoverished children to needless occupational dangers.

A young US farmworker (Photo courtesy of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs)

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