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CLC-Member the National Consumers League Condemns the Defeat of a Child Labor Bill in Virginia

For immediate release: February 4, 2015
Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League, benk@nclnet.org(202) 835-3323

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) is deeply disappointed in the defeat of a Virginia State Legislature bill that would have been the first of its kind to protect children from working in dangerous tobacco fields. “This takes us back a century ago when children in America were working in mines, factories, and mills. The reactionary forces fought protections for kids back then, just as they are doing today,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League (NCL) and co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which NCL co-founded 25 years ago.  “It’s just as intolerable to expose kids to these toxics today as it was in 1915.”

The bill (HB 1906), introduced last month by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), was defeated yesterday in the Republican-controlled Committee on Commerce and Labor. HB 1906 would have made it illegal for children, other than the members of a farmer’s own family, from harvesting tobacco. Recent reports of children being sickened by acute nicotine poisoning in tobacco fields battling nausea, headaches, vomiting, and dizziness have sparked a national movement to ban this practice.

“It is our obligation to protect our most vulnerable workers. It is very disappointing to see Virginia lawmakers cave to big tobacco interests and defeat this common-sense child labor protection,” said Reid Maki. “We will continue to ask lawmakers at both the federal and state levels to ban child labor in U.S.… Read the rest

Consumer-labor group calls bizarre Missouri Senate bill to reduce child labor protections something ‘out of Charles Dickens novel’

For release: February 24, 2011

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the organization which helped pass federal child labor laws in the United States more than 70 years ago, is calling a Missouri bill to bring back child labor “straight out of a Charles Dickens novel.” The 112-year-old NCL is condemning a bill introduced in the Missouri state Senate by Republican Jane Cunningham that would eliminate the prohibition on employment of children under age 14.

“Labor crusader Florence Kelley would be rolling over in her grave,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “This is a new low,” said Greenberg. “Those who are attacking labor and worker protections are now apparently willing to put children back into factories or coal mines.”

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Proposed changes to child labor law spark concern in Maine

[from the Lewiston Sun Journal]:

By Steve Mistler, Staff Writer

Published Mar 10, 2011 12:00 am | Last updated Mar 10, 2011 12:00 am

AUGUSTA — Groups representing restaurants and hotels sparred with worker advocates on Wednesday over a bill that would ease work restrictions within the state’s 20-year-old child labor law.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, and backed by Gov. Paul LePage. Both believe high school-age students should be allowed to work longer hours and more often during the school year.

Opponents said the proposal would dial back child-labor protections enacted in 1991 to prevent employers from pressuring minors into working longer hours. They also worried the proposal would shift emphasis from education and school-sponsored, extra-curricular activities.

Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds can work a maximum of 20 hours per week when school is in session. On school days, students can work a maximum of four hours a day and no later than 10 p.m.

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State vs. Federal Child Labor Laws: Which Apply?

There are child labor laws, both state and federal, that regulate the hours of work, types of jobs, and working conditions of children and adolescents.

Every state has a child labor law, usually enforced by a state labor department.  These laws vary in the level of protection afforded young workers for both agriculture and nonagricultural employment.  In other words, there exists differences in the level of protection and the requirements of child labor laws from state to state.

Additionally, within any state law, there may be some provisions that are more or less restrictive than provisions of the federal child labor law.

Which law applies:

  • Be aware that there is often extensive overlap in coverage with the state and federal child labor laws.  Employers in a state are required to follow the state child labor laws.  Many businesses (not all) are required to follow the federal child labor law as well.
  • If both the state and federal child labor law applies to the same employment situation, the more stringent standard of the two must be obeyed.
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