NEW: As Republicans Refuse to Take Action on Resurgence of Child Labor Violations, Ranking Member Scott Hosts Briefing with Experts

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) hosted a briefing with experts on the resurgence of child labor violations as well as legislative solutions to address abusive child labor practices. Members and staff heard from Sally Greenberg, CEO of the National Consumers League and Chair of the Child Labor Coalition, and Margaret Wurth, Senior Researcher with the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.

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Watch an excerpt of the briefing on YouTube.

Eighty-five years after the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, recent news reports have underscored that children continue to be illegally employed in hazardous jobs and working conditions.  According to the Wage and Hour Division, the number of children employed in violation of child labor laws nearly quadrupled and the number of children illegally employed in dangerous jobs almost doubled since 2015.

In June, Ranking Member Scott and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Ranking Member Alma Adams (NC-12) introduced new legislation—the Protecting Children Act—to finally end oppressive child labor in America. The bill provides federal worker protections agencies with the tools and resources they need to deter violations and prevent harm to children from intensive work in dangerous jobs.

The briefing follows a request from Ranking Members Scott and Adams for Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05) to hold a hearing on the rise of child labor violations.  However, Committee Republicans have yet to schedule any hearings this Congress to address this issue.


Ranking Member Scott delivered the following remarks during the briefing:

“Good afternoon.  I want to thank our expert speakers and all the members and staff on the call today for your work to secure a brighter future for our nation’s children.

“In 2023, oppressive child labor practices should be a lesson taught in American history, but not an ongoing crisis in the United States.  Regrettably, recent reporting has demonstrated that children continue to lose their lives and suffer devastating injuries because they work in hazardous jobs.

“Over 85 years after the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, we have seen an alarming increase in child labor violations.

“According to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the number of children employed in violation of child labor laws has nearly quadrupled since 2015.  And the number of children illegally employed in dangerous jobs has almost doubled in that same time.

“Instead of learning and growing, these children struggle to keep up in school, and they suffer burns and disabling injuries working in meatpacking plants, auto parts factories, and other places—according to public reports.

“This rise in child labor violations is occurring at a time when federal worker protection agencies remain starved for resources.  For example, the Wage and Hour Division has been forced to cut personnel hours spent on child labor enforcement every year since Fiscal Year 2017.

“Additionally, GOP state legislators across the country are actually working actively to roll back essential child labor protections.  At least 10 states have introduced or passed laws rolling back child labor protections in the past two years.

“And Republicans Members of our own Committee have been silent on holding a hearing to address abusive child labor.

“That is why I worked with Representative Alma Adams, the Subcommittee Ranking Member on Workforce Protections, to introduce the Protecting Children Act.  This is the most robust proposal yet to renew our commitment to ending oppressive child labor.  It toughens the penalties for child labor violations, unsafe workplaces, and workplace injuries and deaths experienced by young workers.  It helps prevent the sale and movement of goods produced in violation of child labor laws.  It expands capacity for enforcement, research, and data.  It improves the process for updating child labor rules and prohibiting any future weakening of those rules.  And it helps keep policymakers and the public informed about child labor enforcement and trains young workers on their rights.

“I want to recognize and commend Democratic Members, including Representatives Scholten, Kildee, Casar, DeLauro, Ruiz, and Grijalva, for sponsoring important legislation related to child labor. 

“Simply put, it is imperative that we strengthen child labor laws and ensure that there are serious consequences for endangering children on the job.  So, thank you all for being with us today, and for your commitment to protecting children.”


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