States often take different approaches to protecting youth workers.

The Child Labor Coalition’s letter to Wisconsin Gov. Evers, Urging Him to Veto Legislation that Would Weaken Existing Child Labor Laws

January 21, 2022

 

Dear Governor Evers:

 

The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) based in Washington, D.C., represents 38 groups who work to reduce child labor and the dangers of child work in the U.S. and abroad. We write with concern about legislation, SB 332, which just passed the Wisconsin Assembly yesterday. The legislation would weaken current Wisconsin child labor protections by lengthening the hours 14- and 15-year-old workers would be allowed to work—both on schools days and on non-school days.

The CLC fears that lengthening the hours of work will increase student fatigue and increase the likelihood of students dropping out.  Extending school hours makes it harder for kids to perform school work, participate in after-school activities, do homework, and get a good night’s sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than one quarter of high school students fall asleep in class now.

Driving to and from the job is one of the most common ways teen workers are injured or killed. Even if they are being driven by older drivers, fellow co-workers, or parents after 11:00, their chances of dying in a car accident escalate with late hours of work. Drunk driving fatal accidents are four time more likely at night—the later the hour, the more likely the accident is to involve a drunk driver to a large extent.

Currently, Wisconsin follows federal law and allows children to work from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm when school is in session (on days preceding school) and 7:00 am to 9:00 pm when school is out of session. The proposed new law would allow minors to work until 9:30 on school nights and to begin work at 6:00 am, lengthening the work day for teen workers by 3 hours and 30 minutes.  On non-school nights, the new law would allow minor workers to work between 6:00 am and 11:00 pm.

According to Business Insider, “The bill would keep in place federal rules limiting teens to three hours of work on a school day, eight hours on non-school days, and six days of work a week.”

Each year, 158,000 teens suffer work-related injuries—70,000 are hurt badly enough to have to go to the hospital. By increasing worker fatigue, we increase the likelihood of injury. Rahm Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago and a former member of Congress, is a victim of a teen accident. While working in an Arby’s he suffered a cut from a meat slicer in an Arby’s restaurant he worked in. The cut led to a severe infection and gangrene and the finger had to be amputated.

In 2006, health researchers Kristina M. Zierold, Ph.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and Henry A. Anderson, M.D., chief medical officer of the Wisconsin Division of Public Health surveyed teen workers in North Carolina and found significant health risks associated with work by minors—and night work presented additional dangers. “Based on our analysis, we surmise that working later hours may involve circumstances that place teens at greater risk for severe occupational injury,” Zierold explained. Late at night, when managers have gone home, “teens may be asked to perform more prohibited or hazardous tasks than when supervisors are present.”

Read more

NCL: Eroding Child Labor Protections in 2012 Will Put Some Teens at Risk in U.S.

Read more

California tells Apple, Others not to use Slaves

This isn’t a repeat from the 19th century

| by Nick Farrell in Rome | Filed in Business Apple California

California has introduced a law requiring Apple and thousands of others to make sure that slave labour isn’t part of the supply chain.

According to Reuters,  the law was written following allegations that Apple and Gap used forced labour to create their products.

The law will force manufacturers to explain how they guard against slavery and human trafficking throughout their supply chain. More than 3,200 major companies which do business in California  will be required to disclose steps they take, if any, to ensure their suppliers and partners do not use forced labour.

Companies will risk getting sued by the state attorney general if they flout that law.

Apple declined to comment on the new legislation but the law comes after controversy about working conditions at huge supplier Foxconn, where there were a string of suicides.

However, it’s not clear how this law could cause Apple much trouble as the last we heard, none of the workers at Foxconn were actually forced to work there.

Apparently the law defines child labour and slavery as forced labour. Apple had some problems with some of its suppliers using child labour, but said that it sorted that out. Read more

New Child Labor Laws Expand Work Hours

[Waunakee Tribune]

Tyler Lamb
Regional Reporter

By Tyler Lamb

Regional Reporter

A provision inserted within Gov. Scott Walker’s biennium budget revised Wisconsin’s child labor laws July 1, effectively expanding the hours 16- and 17-year-olds can work.

The state’s child labor laws now mirror federal regulations, but is it a wise idea? Critics contend the change weakens labor laws and makes sure employers don’t have to pay a living wage.

Proponents challenge the measure will provide employers with the flexibility they need to stamp out the confusion between state and federal regulations.

Last month, a provision was placed into the governor’s budget bill by Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) without a public hearing. The measure was later approved along party lines by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Under the old rules, minors could not work more than 32 hours on partial school weeks; 26 hours during a full school week and no more than 50 hours during weeks with no classes.

The new law no longer limits either the daily or weekly hours, or the time of day minors may work. The measure also repealed a state law which prevented 16- and 17-year-olds from working more than six days a week. Teens of all ages are still banned from working during school hours. Read more