Gingrich Says Abolish “Stupid” Child Labor Laws

Newt Gingrich, currently leading in most polls in the Republican presidential primaries, called child labor laws “truly stupid” in a November 18 address at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.  Gingrich then stated that most schools should “get rid of the unionized janitors” and “pay local students to take care of the school.”

The Federal Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to which Gingrich referred prevents children under fourteen years of age from working at all in most occupations.  For youth who are fourteen and fifteen, federal regulations restrict the hours they are permitted to work to no more than three hours on a school day, no more than eight hours on a nonschool day, and no more than eighteen hours a week when school is in session.

Along with the weekend, child labor laws were brought to you by the Labor Movement.  As early as 1832 American Unions had condemned the use of child labor.  In the nineteenth century the Labor Movement fought for, and won, protections for children at the state level, and by 1916, the first federal child labor law was enacted (but later found unconstitutional).  In 1938 the FLSA was enacted, imposing minimum ages and maximum hours of employment for children.

Yuri Gottesman

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