Friday, May 27, 2011

ME's wingnut gov. to gut child labor laws

Wingnut Maine Gov. Paul LePage is expected to sign new legislation loosening child work rules. The Bangor Daily News reports the bill, which has already passed the Senate, allows teens to work an additional four hours during the school week, increasing the limit from 20 to 24 hours, and allows them to work 15 minutes later, until 10:15 p.m. on school days. Republican legislators said the new law will allow teens to contribute to their families’ finances and pay for increasing college costs, while Democratic legislators rightfully say Maine needs to create good jobs for adults first.

“Given the current high unemployment rate in Maine, we should be spending our time and energy here creating jobs for people’s parents not increasing the amount of hours 16- and 17-year-olds can work,” said Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast.

It comes as no surprise the bill has the support of the Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Innkeepers Association.

“I think this bill should be more rightly titled an act to exploit our children for the financial benefit of the restaurant and the hospitality industry,“ Rep. Timothy Driscoll, D-Westbrook, told The Bangor Daily News.

The original bill, sponsored by Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, would have lifted all of the restrictions on the hours 16-year-olds can work while school is out of session and would have eliminated all restrictions on the hours 17-year-olds can work.

Legislation that would have instituted a “training” minimum wage of $5.25 for teens, below the state’s $7.50 minimum wage, was defeated by the legislature’s labor committee earlier this month. A very small favor for which it is difficult to be thankful.