Tag Archive for: teen workers


Iowa’s Child Labor Bill Turns Priorities Upside Down

By Mike Owen, Common Good Iowa
Posted on February 9, 2023 at 12:01 PM by Mike Owen

A new proposal in the Iowa Legislature turns Iowa priorities and values upside down. At a time we are doing too little for economic opportunity for children and their families, lawmakers are looking to relax protection for minors in the workplace as an excuse to meet a workforce shortage.

The bill, Senate File 167 is one more step down a low road that lets employers off the hook for low wages, and this Legislature off the hook for already poor workplace protections. Worse, it puts young people at risk.

Common Good Iowa is registered against the bill, which today passed a Senate subcommittee.

For our young people, we should aspire to more than making them tools or pawns in a workforce strategy that will most certainly fail. If we want more people in the workforce, we need to pay them and to protect them. We need to assure them critical access to child care, and to crack down on wage theft. This bill fails on each count.

Putting kids to work at longer hours and in potentially risky work assignments isn’t a real answer for a workforce shortage, and it’s rarely going to be an answer for young people as they proceed toward adulthood.

Instead, we should ask ourselves, as Iowa leaders in the past have done, what would make Iowa the best place to be a kid? How can we best point a direction for achievement across the spectrum the world offers? What can we do to enhance their physical, intellectual and emotional development? How can we make post-high-school education and training affordable?

A long-range workforce strategy will ask those questions, and seek answers that nurtures dreams and goals of young Iowans — as a priority, and not a short-term fix for low-wage employers. They are far more important challenges than making sure a 16-year-old can serve a beer, or work later at night instead of doing homework or spending time with family and friends.

[Originally published at commongood.org]



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 teen workers 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.

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. The cut led to a severe infection and gangrene and part of 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.”

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ASSE Rolls Out Its New Target Teen Work Safety Tools Aimed At Preventing Work Injuries, Illnesses

[from www.safetyonline.com]

March 3, 2011

American Society of Safety Engineers roll out new target teen safety kit aimed at preventing youth work injuries, illnesses

Des Plaines, IL – Slippery floors, hot cooking equipment, heavy lifting, loud noises and working alone are some of the dangers teens face as they experience a first job or seasonal employment. If not aware of the risk and properly trained and protected, these dangers can lead to serious injuries or fatalities for teen workers. To help teens stay safe at work, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has developed a new, comprehensive “Target Teen Work Safety” electronic tool kit (www.asse.org/teensafety) it is rolling out this month to ASSE chapters. Read more