Apparently the GOP in Maine believes that working children more hours for low wages will help the ailing economy. According to a recent New York Times editorial, Maine Governor Paul LePage has not only bulldozed union rights, but has even been working on repealing child labor laws:
In Maine, where Gov. Paul LePage was so contemptuous of labor that he ordered the removal of murals depicting workers from a state building, Republicans are even supporting a loosening of child labor restrictions, eliminating the maximum number of hours that minors can work on school days.”
Moreover, a bill that has been presented to the Maine State Legislature as of March 30 proposes lowering the minimum wage for workers under age 20 from 7.50 an hour to 5.25 an hour. ThinkProgress reports:
LD 1346 suggests several significant changes to Maine’s child labor law, most notably a 180-day period during which workers under age 20 would earn $5.25 an hour.
The state’s current minimum wage is $7.50 an hour.
Rep. David Burns, R-Whiting, is sponsoring the bill, which also would eliminate the maximum number of hours a minor over 16 can work during school days.
Burns’ bill is particularly insidious, because it directly encourages employers to hire children or teenagers instead of adult workers.
Maine’s current unemployment rate is only 7%. The national unemployment rate is 9.2% as of March, 2011.
As a wave of GOP union gutting begun by Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, has swept a dozen states so far across the nation, affecting firefighters, police officers and teachers, the attempt to repeal child labor laws is the latest in attempts to eliminate unions and labor laws. If other states decide to follow Maine’s example, the implications of repealed child labor laws across the country would place children as the main labor force working for about the same and/or slightly lower wages than Mexican migrant workers for their first six months.