Sen. Jane Cunningham (R-Mo.) is sponsoring a bill in the Missouri legislature that would legalize the employment of children under the age of 14, remove restrictions on the number of hours children can work and eliminate inspections on workplaces that employ children.
Cunningham believes Missouri’s labor law rules are an example of “big government telling parents how to raise their children,” and says her aim is to “put back some common sense.”
This very week, in 1912, women and children textile strikers in Lawrence, Mass., were beaten by police during a 63-day walkout protesting low wages and work speedups.
In 2011, an estimated 158 million children aged 5-14 are engaged in child labor, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, places that don’t have child labor laws. That’s one in six children in the world.
It took the labor movement a hundred years to guarantee protections for child workers, from 1836 when early trade unions proposed state minimum age laws to 1938 when children’s employment and hours of work were federally regulated in the Fair Labor Standards Act.
One hundred years. We just can't let wackadoodles like Cunningham roll back those hard-won rights.