Letter: Maintain restrictions on child labor

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Economists have long documented the importance of third streams of revenue for working class families to fall back on: snowplowing, babysitting, and house cleaning are examples of work that can be done on top of other jobs to generate or replace income when living wage jobs are scarce. LD 516 would add another way for families to get by – bring back child labor. Provisions in the bill allow the “homeschooling” of teens who can then work for wages during regular school hours, with few restrictions, but lower than minimum wage pay. Since Maine has a surplus labor pool right now, particularly among those without a college degree, adding teens to the labor force will drive down costs for businesses and wages for families. As adults lose access to income, young people will be further expected to earn money to support their families, creating a terrible cycle for our communities. Shifting adult work to children is immoral, unsafe and also impractical for the long-term. Please encourage legislators to protect Maine children’s right to an education and a childhood and maintain current restrictions on child labor.

Kimberly Simmons