Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, Republicans across the nation are attempting to reverse the hard-won social progress we’ve achieved over the past century, starting with child labor protections. As reported by a major news outlet, the conservative advocacy group the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is driving the movement to allow children to work in dangerous conditions with long hours.
In Iowa, the state Senate approved a bill allowing children as young as 14 to work night shifts and 15-year-olds to work on assembly lines. This bill, still awaiting approval from the Iowa House, is part of a broader effort by the FGA and its lobbying arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, to relax child labor regulations in multiple states.
The FGA’s most significant victory came in March when they played a central role in crafting an Arkansas law eliminating work permits and age verification for workers under 16. State Rep. Rebecca Burkes (R), the bill’s sponsor, openly acknowledged that the legislation came from the FGA.
What’s particularly alarming about these moves is the fact that children are already at risk in agricultural jobs. Farm Progress shares some chilling statistics: every three days, a child on a U.S. farm dies from an agriculture-related incident, while 38 children are injured daily on farms. Machinery and motor vehicles, including ATVs, account for a staggering 73% of working youth farm fatalities.
By pushing for looser child labor laws, the GOP is essentially disregarding the safety and well-being of young workers. Instead of advancing progress and protecting vulnerable populations, they’re taking us back to an era when children were forced into dangerous work environments. It’s time to hold these politicians accountable and demand policies that prioritize the future of our children, not just the interests of big corporations and conservative lobbyists.