Republican Governor Pushing to Loosen Child Labor Laws

lepage1And the Republican march to return us to a society similar to that of the late-1800’s continues.  The latest move comes by way of the Republican Governor from Maine, Paul LePage, announcing that he will continue to push for the loosening of child labor laws through the new year.  He apparently thinks children as young as 12 should learn what it’s like to get paid a lousy wage gain some new perspective on life.

And yes, Governor LePage really supports allowing 12-year-olds to work.

“I’m all for not allowing a 12-year-old to work 40 hours,” LePage said.  “But a 12-year-old working eight to 10 hours a week or a 14-year-old working 12 to 15 hours a week is not bad.”

Well, I’m sure glad he’s against 12-year-olds working full-time jobs.  That’s a relief.  Though as ridiculous as the thought of 12-year-olds working jobs is, would it really be so far-fetched to imagine that “10 hours a week” could turn into 15, 20, 30 — you get the picture.

On, and there’s another caveat to this whole situation.  He’s been pushing for quite some time to install a new “children’s training wage” at somewhere around $5.25.   But this new $5.25 wage he’s been pushing for isn’t just for 12-year-olds — he wants it to be applicable for all workers in Maine under the age of 20 during their first 180 days of employment.

So not only is he advocating to allow 12-year-olds (otherwise known as middle schoolers) the right to work, but he also wants to undercut the federal minimum wage to open the door for businesses to hire people under the age of 20 at an even crappier starting wage.

And I’m sure businesses wouldn’t be tempted at all to “let go” of workers once they hit their 180 day mark.  Businesses are always looking out for the betterment of their employees, right?

This is absolutely ridiculous.  He’s literally advocating a return to the time when children were used for low-skilled and very low-paid workers.

How did this fool even get elected?   Granted, I live in Texas and Rick Perry is hardly the most intelligent individual to represent a state, but last I checked he wasn’t advocating for 12 year olds to become part of the workforce.

Republicans are really trying to do what no society in human history has done — regress to times that society has evolved from.  I really believe these conservatives long for the days of the late-1800’s or early-1900’s when women couldn’t vote, gays were kept in the shadows, minorities had few rights, African Americans were blatantly treated like second-class citizens and the only people thriving were straight, white, Christian males.

It’s absurd that in 2013 we have a United States governor actively trying to bring us back to the days of cheap child labor.

But when it comes to the Republican party (where satire and reality seem to go hand in hand), nothing really surprises me anymore.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • mngrayfox

    Go back to work for Marden’s LePage, at best your no more than salvage!!

  • Zoe

    I am a mainer. he won in a 5 way race with 38 percent of the vote. Most of us did not vote for this dumb ass. He is in the paper every week for some new loud mouthed move: refusing to celebrate Martin Luther king day, hanging out with pro life protesters, or my favorite telling the NAACP to kiss his ass. out loud he said this. we got a winner that’s for sure

  • Steeler4Life

    I have a feeling I am gunna catch alot of flak for this, but I dont care, bring what you must! While I do not agree with lowing a wage for all people under 20, the idea of letting our younger generation work, in my mind, is not a horrible idea. Now, before you all go nuts, calling me a teatard (I do not support either side) or wanna just lash out at me, you have to understand why one might feel the way I do. *edited* I AM NOT ADVOCATING A LOWER WAGE FOR ANYONE OF ANY AGE! *edited*
    With today’s young generation, kids seem to not understand the work that it takes for people to get what they have. When Oprah decided to build schools in Africa, it was because when she asked kids, in this country, what they wanted more than anything, kids answered, New Jordans, iPads, top of the line clothing, Grills (for the mouth, not for cooking) and other materialistic BS. While the majority of kids in Africa stated they just wanted am education. Kids today take many things for granted, not understanding or not wanting to understand how hard their parents have to work to give them the good things in life. If a child of 12-16 is able to work, legally, they would be able to appreciate (Or at least I hope), how hard one has to work for the things they want, let alone what their parents give them.
    Now, I am not advocating for kids to be worked in places like a chinese sweatshop. I am not advocating that a company be able to hiring nothing but children. When I was 13, I had an “off the books” job sweeping the sidewalk outside of a local bar (my mother was the a bartender there) 3 times a week. It allowed me to learn that nothing is free, that I have to work for what I want. Hell, if a 12 year old wants to earn some money to but a game console, cellphone or something else, why not let them, if the parents agree, of course!

    • Rebecca Bonga

      You’re right… You probably should catch a lot of flak for this… How in the world is any kid making $5 an hour supposed to save anything towards their education? This seems counter productive and will only serve to allow employers to take advantage of kids. The hell with that. If they are doing the same work as someone in their mid 20’s then they deserve the same pay. The VALUE of things should be taught by the parents not by employers. I had a few “off the book ” jobs as a kid. I mowed lawns, babysat, shoveled snow. Kids can still do it, problem is my parents only let me work for neighbors they knew. We tend not to know our neighbors as well anymore.

      • Steeler4Life

        I agree, the child should not be working for 5 bucks an hour and a child should not be able to go into and apply at just any establishment. While there will have to be extra rules to apply to the these kids, if the parents want them to work, to help their child understand financial responsibility, let them! Never in my original post did I say that a kid should be permitted to work for less than minimum wage! “While I do not agree with lowing a wage for all people under 20, the idea of letting our younger generation work, in my mind, is not a horrible idea.” That should allow ppl to understand that I am not for the 5 bucks an hour wage, for anyone of any age!

      • Roseann Pascoe Blackburn

        I understand where you are coming from, but I am not so sure that child labor would necessarily result in the the positive aspects that you have described. While it may help some to understand the value of work, I don’t see how that would lead to the understanding of the value of education. I also fear that big business, (as they normally do) would find some way to take advantage of this, and create something foreseen, or unforeseen that could become detrimental to children in some way.

    • Mike Williams

      I understand what your saying and will look to your example to further the notion that children working alongside their parents are a separate matter and nothing like the textile mills that ran on child labor in the early 1900’s nor the hazardous jobs that kids were forced to do because they were kids. I had a paper route as a kid. Today I would not even entertain the idea of one of my kids doing the same thing. Different times being the reason. My first official job was at 16 years old and I need to be licensed by the school and the state for the maximum of 3 hours per day not to exceed 15 hours for the week, and I had to maintain a GPA no less than 3.0. That was just so I could sweep floors and clean a grease trap at a butcher shop…Yes, a saw dust on the floor cut to order butcher shop. and that was in the 1980’s.
      It is the job of the parent to teach the kid the values of hard work and discipline to do a job the right way. (discipline is not the same as punishment. for it is the lack of discipline that leads to punishment.)

      To often I see a lot of “kids” working jobs that they should not be working because they lack the proper training, skill, and discipline to do the job, safely and effectively. These are the 20 somethings that know everything and utilize none of that knowledge anyway.

      All that aside. Children need to learn first and worry about earning later. Put kids on an allowance and be strict with the money.
      Today , I get to teach my 20 year old the value of not smoking in the vehicle I provide for him so he can go to college and work. Reference my statement about discipline and punishment.

  • robingee

    “Though as ridiculous as the thought of 12-year-olds working jobs is, would it really be so far-fetched to imagine that “10 hours a week” could turn into 15, 20, 30 — you get the picture.”

    Not to agree with this dude, but that sounds like the “slippery slope” argument we hate so much. 12-year olds cannot work because they might be forced to work more?

    • Kelly Jennings

      Children should not be working jobs that adults should have, which is what is what would happen. Why give a job at less than minimum wage to a child, when *adults* are out of work?

      And if there are jobs suitable for children, like babysitting or weeding gardens, those don’t come under labor laws anyway.

      • Erasmite

        Why should we let kids babysit and weed gardens? Where I live, there are lots of adults who do those jobs. It seems kind of arbitrary that kids can weed, but not wash dishes.

      • Dan Kozlowski

        Those aren’t usually forty hour-a-week jobs.

      • Erasmite

        Where I live, plenty of adults work by patching together a bunch of “kid” jobs. 40 hours a week, sometimes more. Nobody wants 12-year-olds to work 40 hours a week.

  • Edward Krebbs

    OK, I realize that a lot of young kids have paper routes (although not as prevalent as it used to be and the increased hazard of delivering papers with increasing urbanization / fragmentation of our community). So I might partially agree with him.
    However with the trajectory he is taking, I can’t help but wonder if he was about to say that children have smaller hands which make them more useful in any number of industrial applications. And all over the world, children successfully work in sweatshops making the cheap schlock that we buy. Not to mention we could solve both our energy crisis and pollution crisis if we just kept all children from 5 years old and up running on treadmills attached to generators. And as Swift noted, small children are a tasty source of food.

    • Erasmite

      It seems most people here are more concerned with direction this bill is heading than the bill itself. Very few people seem to have a problem with 12-year-olds working 10 hours, they’re concerned it will be more.

  • AlfredLehmberg

    See… we tried that. We tried _all_ that. We retreated from it for a reason. It is obscene. Consider, sans experience and the ability to make an informed choice… children lack the ability to say “No” or make that informed choice, eh? What oversights does this porcine psychopath guarantee against the inevitable abuse and advantage taking adult quick to take an advantage? What egregious swine Republicans are! I anticipate their extinction and will gleefully celebrate their demise in 2014.

  • Edward Krebbs

    Sounds like LePage is ignorant of the laws he wants to change. Plus a typical Republican calling for a law change based on a situation which doesn’t exist. Labor laws don’t outlaw all work by minors. They just provide limits. So what Lepage SAYS he wants is already fine. So what does he REALLY want ? Lower wages for kids spilling over into pulling down the wages of adults, perhaps ?

  • saltcay

    I’m glad that Maine has so much work available that they have to hire people as young as 12 years old to fill the positions.

    Hey, here is an idea, how about giving those jobs to the veterans returning from overseas that can’t find a job, and pay them a decent wage? After all it is the Republicans that refuse a veterans jobs bill!

  • conflictedonthisissue

    While I think making children that young work regular jobs is odd. I must say we responsible parents encourage our kids to work for money often. Whether it be chores or babysitting or even doing odd jobs for neighbors. So before everyone blows up about this think about what they already do.

  • shopper

    How can we build a more productive society if our children are working at the age of 12 instead of being educated? Even 10 hours a week takes time away from their education (which includes learning socialization skills). Think of those who already know that they want to try to become an athlete, dancer, musician, etc. Jobs that need skills not taught in regular schools but need hours of schooling and practice. Besides that, what would working children do to the unemployment rate? Take jobs away from the older workers and pay cheaper wages to the young, putting the older ones on welfare. Seems counterproductive to me. Guess he wants to raise state taxes to support them.

    • Gettheheckoverit

      more whining. How is a kid cutting a few lawns any different than *working 8-10 hours a week*? It’s not. I dont know what he proposes or what your wild imaginations are running to, but I think alot of kids that age cut a few lawns for spending money. And a few lawns is…a few hours. Teaches them something. The mundane idea is far from the sweatshops most of you are imagining…..

      • Mike Williams

        really…why not look at the history of why child labor laws exist in the first place. Then come back and comment with some knowledge. there is a huge difference between some kid cutting a lawn for a few bucks and a kid punching a clock. What would that kid be doing? there are already laws establishing minimum age in manufacturing, food service, etc. So those would have to be rolled out as well. Then you have the insurance companies they won’t insure a kid working at the catapiler company running a sky crane. Maybe we just use kids to fill the jobs even the illegals won’t work.

    • Jim Bean

      What if it took 10 hours a week away from their video games, hanging out at the mall, bullying, and sexting?

      • Dan Kozlowski

        In Japan they’re big on video games, and they’re ranked a lot higher than the USA in education.

    • Erasmite

      I was working at 12 for 10 hours a week. It was a great way to spend time during summer break. I understand the concern about them displacing older workers, but I simply don’t see how working for 10 hours is going to harm the kids.

  • Linda Bridges Baker

    Would they need to swear fealty as well? Isn’t that what the serfs in Russia did?

  • Kelly Green

    F*ck. Scot Walker will not only propose putting eight-year-olds to work for $2/hour but also propose the same wage for those under the age of 25. And just to make sure that he’s even crueler than LePage, he’ll make the 25-year-old work for $2/hour for 365 days. The Bastard.

  • Jim Bean

    I live in SW PA where there are large Amish settlements. Their children are ‘forced’ (taught) to work as early as age 4 or 5 and work all through their childhood rather than hanging out at the mall, sexting, bullying, or playing violent video games. They grow up to be responsible, self-sufficient adults. They take care of others, don’t commit crimes, don’t collect food stamps, don’t do drugs, don’t shoot people (despite the fact that they all have guns) don’t cause auto accidents, don’t contribute nearly as much CO2, don’t go on disability, and don’t need Obamacare. Maybe LePage is on to something. (I suppose at my mention of ‘self-sufficiency’ most liberals were already running for their Depends.)

    • Roseann Pascoe Blackburn

      While the Amish found the importance in their lifestyle, and were able to secure it, the rest of the country is not Amish country, therefore isn’t your comparison a bit irrelevant?

      • Jim Bean

        Not if you are objectively searching about for evidence to support or contradict a theory.

    • Jbh Jbh

      they also don’t get dental care or see modern doctors… It sounds like you’re saying they’re not acting like (republican hystericalized) poor people. Believe it or not, some poor people DO NOT collect food stamps, do drugs, shoot people, etc. And no one hangs out at the malls anymore. Amish DO cause auto accidents sometimes, and they almost always DIE when it happens.

      Yes I know hystericalized isn’t a word… but it should be. Anytime a republican opens their mouth about anything, it’s complete hysteria.

    • Dan Kozlowski

      Amish only go to school until eight grade. And if you think they don’t commit crimes or use drugs, you’re wrong. There are a good number of Amish drug dealers.

      • Jim Bean

        You’ve been watching Breaking Amish and/or Amish Mafia – two fictional shows produced by liberals to deprecate religion. Actual Amish people won’t voluntarily even let you take their picture.

      • Dan Kozlowski

        I’ve never seen the shows, but heard of them. They’re supposed to be based on real events. I have, however, met Amish in real life, and seen documentaries. Some people I know say that they’re often dishonest in business dealings. Also, maybe you heard about the whole Amish beard cutting case.

      • Jim Bean

        Yes, I did hear about the beard cutting case. Takes the concept of physical violence to a whole new level, doesn’t it? All societies have problems. But on a scale of one to ten, if our problems are a ten, theirs is a point five.

  • Michele Whittam Giacobbi

    My kids all have jobs – it is called school! LaPage is a fool

  • yarniac

    What gets me is these people, here in the U.S. advocating the idea! This is not about mowing lawns a few hours a week.. this is about turning our country into a slave labor country like China. Most of the “new” jobs are at slave wages as it is! Our children are already 27 in education world wide.. 27th!!! How about putting education FIRST in this country instead of war? Putting the arts and PE back into our schools? How about funneling money into EVERY school, not just the ones in nice neighborhoods…

  • Mike Williams

    If he is that exited about the 1800’s perhaps we could arrange his pay to be that of the 1800’s. that’s when they got paid per deim…and then it was $6.00

  • Erasmite

    There’s nothing wrong with a 12-year old working 10 hours a week during summer vacation. In fact, there are plenty of kids who are 12 and younger already working longer hours. Child labor laws have all sorts of special exceptions: family farms, caddying, and bunch of other “occupations.” Kids should be paid full wages, if only because it teaches them expect proper compensation, but there’s nothing wrong with a 12-year-old working 10 hours during the summer.

    • Dan Kozlowski

      To my knowledge, most or all states say that the work rules are different during the summer. Come to think of it, I’ve heard that was originally the reason for summer breaks: so that people could work in the fields during the summer.

  • Epic Guest

    I worked about 10 hours a week when I was fourteen to save up for my class field trip to DC. It worked out fine for me. I’m not sure someone that’s 12 could do that during the school year, though (and it does depend on the kid and their current grades). Also, I can see this as quickly going bad. I can see parents making their kids work the full amount for a bit of extra income for themselves and not the kid, but I suppose that can (and has) happened already with child actors.

  • DannyEastVillage


  • Guest

    Brilliant idea!!! The public education system in Maine can be downgraded even more if children are put to work at an early age like they were in the 1800s. Huge savings to taxpayers.

    Seriously though, where does the Republican party find these people? Oh yeah, it was a Republican President (Reagan) who empties out the mental institutions. Must have been done to swell the Republican party ranks, and not to cut expenses.

  • Brilliant idea!!! The public education system in Maine can be downgraded even more to save money if children are put to work. Who needs more than a grade school education anyway?

    Seriously though… Where does the Republican party find these morons they run as candidates for office? And more shocking, someone actually votes for them?

  • Dan Kozlowski

    I don’t think people can work forty hours a week if they’re in school full time, legally and practically.