IA Lawmakers Consider Changing Child Labor Laws
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Iowa lawmakers are considering a bill to allow teenagers to work in jobs which have historically excluded minors for safety reasons.
Supporters argued the measure would help alleviate staffing shortages, but critics said it would put Iowa teens in danger.
Senate File 167 would allow employers to hire children as young as 14, if they are enrolled in work-based learning programs at school.
Charlie Wishman, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, said the bill would allow young people to work jobs in places which could put them at risk.
"Meat coolers, loading and unloading equipment onto and off of vehicles, railroad cars, conveyors, hand tools, industrial laundromats," Wishman outlined.
He contended dangerous jobs -- such as those in meatpacking or mining with a history of deadly accidents -- are still restricted, but the bill would allow the state to grant waivers for jobs in those sectors if employers can make the case they need more workers.
The Iowa Restaurant Association supports the measure, saying it would help them replace workers lost during the pandemic. A Senate committee will consider the bill Thursday morning.
Wishman added there are plenty of opportunities for minors to work which do not put them at high risk of injury, such as bagging groceries.
Connie Ryan, spokesperson for the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, described the bill as "like taking a step back in time," when minors were unprotected from dangerous working conditions. She added it would hit especially hard in marginalized communities.
"Communities who experience poverty, and they may forgo their children's safety and take any number of these jobs," Ryan asserted.
Critics also pointed out there is no restitution provision in the bill should a minor be seriously injured on the job. Despite opposition from labor groups across the country, the efforts are part of a national trend to hire younger workers, prompted in part by low unemployment rates, making employees hard to find.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
In the wake of the devastating overdose epidemic in North Carolina, the state's Department of Health and Human Services is stepping up to aid …
In cities across the globe, including the Michigan city of Midland, various organizations are commemorating International Day of Peace today…
In rural Alabama, where hurricanes and tornadoes are a constant threat, communities often struggle with damage and limited resources for extended …
A group of West Virginia Democratic delegates is calling for a special session to address West Virginia University's budget shortfall. Del. Evan …
While many Wyomingites of Hispanic descent came from Mexico, there is a lesser-known population from the old Spanish settlements of northern New …
People in rural America are five times as likely to live in so-called "ambulance deserts," areas far from an ambulance service or station, than those …
Health and Wellness
The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in Mississippi. About one in seven Mississippians lives with diabetes. Jernard A. Wells, cookbook …
This week, feminism passes a milestone of sorts as the iconic publication, Ms. Magazine, looks back on its first fifty years. A new book has just …