What Kind of America Do We Want to Leave Our Children?
Posted in the Kaukauna Forum
Since: Jun 11
#1 Aug 4, 2011
The spring 2006 issue of Ms. Magazine contains an article by Rebecca Clarren about some beautiful tropical islands described by disgraced House Majority Leader Tom Delay as "a perfect petri dish of capitalism." What's so perfect about Saipan and the other 13 Northern Mariana Islands? Primarily this: items produced there can carry the label "Made in USA" and be sold in the U.S. without tariffs or quotas, but the scandalously low U.S. minimum wage does not apply, and the pathetically minimal rights of immigrants and workers in the U.S. do not apply. There are no labor unions. Any worker can be terminated and deported at any time for no cause.
The workers, mostly Chinese women, some of whose stories are told in the Ms. Magazine article, sew clothing for J. Jill, Elie Tahari, Ann Taylor, Liz Claiborne, The Gap, and Ralph Lauren, among others. They pay so much money to obtain work and for shelter and food that they can labor for a decade and still not pay it back. They serve, therefore, as indentured servants, sharing rooms and beds, lacking health care, and working extra unpaid hours for the reward of being permitted to also work paid overtime. Pregnancy is unacceptable, costs of it not covered, and amateur abortion encouraged. The island of Saipan does great business in prostitution for Asian businessmen and American soldiers. Approximately 90 percent of the prostitutes, according to Ms., are former Chinese garment workers. Others had been recruited for jobs like waitressing but were forced into prostitution instead.
On February 14th 2011 Republican Missouri State Senator Jane Cunningham tried to introduce legislation (S.B. 222.) that would completely repeal all child labor laws in the state of Missouri. Senator Cunningham’s Bill S.B. 222 would have eliminated the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen, removed restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day and removed the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ. It would have allowed children under sixteen to work in any capacity in a motel resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished thus exposing children to the danger of child prostitution.
In April of 2011, Maine Republican State Rep. David Burns introduced bill LD 1346 which would allow employers to pay anyone under the age of 20 as little as $5.25 an hour a full $2.25 less than the $7.50 minimum wage. In addition, the same legislation eliminates the maximum number of hours a minor 16 years of age or older can work on a school day during hours when school is not in session. As one state representative puts it,“Why would Republicans push to create a pool of cheap labor when Maine’s unemployment is above 7% and so many people are begging for jobs?”
Michele Bachmann wants to eliminate minimum wage
Do you want your daughters forced into a life of prostitution and sweatshop labor? Republicans’ contempt for workers is hardly news. GOP governors throughout the country have declared war on collective bargaining. Nevertheless, the GOP’s increasingly widespread assaults on child labor laws are a significant escalation from their longstanding war on adult workers. This leaves us with the question. What Kind of America Do We Want to Leave Our Children? Do we want the same vision that the Republican GOP and Tom Delay want? Do we want an America that provides safe working conditions and preserve the civil rights of all Americans? Republican GOP voted to repeal the right to collective bargaining what’s next? Vote to preserve the civil rights of you and your children.
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