NSC Labor Division news Executive/legislative/judicial

Two House Democrats want a hearing on child labor violations


Washington — Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Alma Adams (D-NC) are asking Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, to convene a hearing on child labor violations.

Scott is the committee’s ranking member, and Adams is ranking member of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee. In a June 6 letter addressed to Foxx, they cite data from the Department of Labor Wage and House Division showing that child labor violations have nearly quadrupled since 2015.

However, in a statement obtained by Safety+Health, Foxx says the request is “all for show.”

Scott and Adams say they plan to introduce a “comprehensive bill to toughen penalties for child labor violations and unsafe workplaces that harm children, expand research and expertise on these issues, update standards about occupations too hazardous for the employment of children, and track the statistics on the scope of child labor violations.”

Two bills concerning child labor are under consideration in the House: the Justice for Exploited Children Act of 2023 (H.R. 2388) and the Combating Child Labor Act (H.R. 2956). 

“In short, the scourge of child labor that Congress sought to eliminate 85 years ago with the passage of [the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938] is back, and it has returned at a time when the agencies we expect to provide timely data and aggressive enforcement lack the resources they need,” the letter states. “We ask that you schedule a hearing this month so that committee members have the opportunity to hear about the nature and scope of the child labor problem confronting the country and the legislative solutions to address it.”

In her statement, Foxx contends that “my Republican colleagues covered the rise in illegal migrant child labor thoroughly during our hearing with acting Labor Secretary Julie Su. Additionally, committee Republicans requested a briefing from DOL on this issue and we are working with DOL to determine a time.”

She also says that Democrats “spent four hours sitting in a room with acting Secretary Su and not once did they ask a pointed question about the DOL’s failure to address this problem.”

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