October 1, 2022

Trump administration just announced plans to roll back child labor laws for hazardous work

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In what comes as the just latest indication that our current government is run by morally bankrupt, parasitic opportunists, the Labor Department has announced that it will seek to repeal labor protection laws that prevent teenagers from working too many hours in hazardous condition, Bloomberg Law reports.


Under the new law, regulations would be relaxed to allow 16 and 17-year-old apprentices and student learners to receive longer blocks of training in dangerous professions.

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Currently, roofing work, work involving chainsaws, and other hazardous machines are generally off-limits for people under the age of 18. However, exemptions are available to 16 and 17-year-olds currently in vocational schools. The exemptions usually allow for just an hour of such a workday. The new proposal would allow for larger chunks of consecutive time.

“The Department proposes to safely launch more family-sustaining careers by removing current regulatory restrictions on the amount of time that apprentices and student learners may perform HO-governed work,” the Department of Labor said in a statement to Bloomberg Law.

While the Trump administration is attempting the paint the regulatory rollback as a way to empower those who don’t intend to go to a traditional university, it must be seen within the broader context of what we know about their agenda. These are men and women devoted to grift and lining their own pockets.

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They may want to sell these legal changes as a way to empower Americans at a young age to start building their future careers, but it seems far more likely that it’s a handout to companies who will now be able to abuse minors by subjecting them to long hours for noncompetitive pay. Not surprisingly, child labor advocates are worried the rollback will lead to a spike in injuries and fatalities for teenage workers.

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“When you find 16-year-olds running a meat slicer or a mini grinder or a trash compactor, we know kids are severely injured in those circumstances. That’s why the laws exist in the first place,” Michael Hancock, a former employee at the Labor Department’s Wages and Hour Division told Bloomberg Law.

“Now we’re saying, ‘We’re going to open those hazards up to kids; we hope that the employer is going to follow the law to a T and make sure the kid is being closely supervised. I think that stretches credulity to think that’s how it’s actually going to work,” Hancock explained further.

Reiki Maki, the Coordinator for the Child Labor Coalition voiced similar concerns:

“When I started doing this kind of work 20 years ago, we were losing 70 kids a year at work, and now we are losing usually 20 or less. We’ve made substantial progress, and I think that the tightened hazardous occupations rules have played a role in the lowered death tolls for teenage workers. So I would not be in favor of relaxing any of these standards; I think it would be a tragic mistake and would lead to the death of teenage workers,” said Maki.

It’s straight out of the Republican playbook: slash regulations that protect workers to enrich corporations.  While there is perhaps an argument to be made for relaxing some regulations to help prepare teenagers for their eventual occupations, one can’t presume that the Trump administration is acting in good faith. They can’t be trusted, and until these crooks are gone we can’t let our guard down on issues like this.

Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.

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