Some “thank yous” are in order for Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Trump administration mouthpiece turned Arkansas governor.
At a time when Republicans are trying to portray themselves as saviors of America’s children, it is immensely helpful to be able to pinpoint clear examples of their hypocrisy.
Sanders did us a service in that regard, signing a bill Tuesday that weakens Arkansas’ child labor laws.
Under the law, the Youth Hiring Act of 2023, children under 16 do not have to obtain permission from the Division of Labor to get a job. They will no longer need to get an employment certificate, which verified their age, described their work and work schedule, and included written consent from a parent or guardian. Sanders signed the bill into law on Tuesday.
The move follows a stunning revelation from the Labor Department that one of the world’s largest food sanitation companies, Packers Sanitation Services Inc., had employed at least 102 children — some as young as 13 — to work hazardous factory jobs in eight states. Some worked overnight shifts using “caustic chemicals to clean razor-sharp saws,” the Labor Department said.
A New York Times report from late February also detailed the extensive use of migrant children in hazardous factories that make products for some of the wealthiest companies in the U.S.
And it’s not like the idea of child exploitation in the workplace is a foreign concept in Arkansas. There’s an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit against a Chili’s restaurant in the state, for example, over allegations the restaurant subjected teenage employees to sexual harassment.
With those inconvenient truths in mind, I’ve taken it upon myself to write up a handy PR message for Gov. Sanders and her team to use if they’re looking to dismiss people’s concerns about the whole child labor thing. (No need to quote me here, y’all.)
The liberal wokies want to protect your precious children from the rigors of a 9-5 at your local food sanitation factory. We in the Arkansas Republican Party think a few chemical burns won’t hurt. I mean — I guess they could hurt. But in the grand scheme, the lesions earned — I mean, lessons learned from a hard day’s work are invaluable. God bless America. And — hey! Billy! Stop being lazy and get back on the assembly line! Come on, you’re 13!
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders