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Killing the Kids on the Job

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Back when I was doing the research for Empire of Timber, I ran across a story in a timber journal about a child laborer from sometime around 1900. See, the timber companies didn’t want to shut the saws down in order to clean up all the accumulating sawdust under them. So they did what any good capitalist in this freedom loving country would do–hired small children to go under the running blades and clean it up. Unfortunately, one kid poked his head up a little too high and got it sawed off.

This is the present Republicans want. Increasingly, this is the present the Republicans are getting. The deaths from their new child labor regime are starting to add up. I thought about this story when I read about a kid getting killed in a Michigan sawmill.

A 16-year-old male has died following an industrial workplace accident near the Michigan border.

According to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, the incident occurred at Florence Hardwoods at 6:51 a.m. on June 29.

Florence Hardwoods is a logging company located across the Brule River from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The teen was transported to Marshfield Medical Center-Dickinson and then to Milwaukee Children’s Hospital.

Maybe our dying workers shouldn’t be going to the children’s hospital, just on principle, but hey I guess that’s just freedom hating me.

And now there’s this case from Mississippi.

A 16-year-old boy from Guatemala died as a result of an on-the-job accident at a poultry plant in Mississippi, authorities said Tuesday.

It happened at about 8 p.m. on July 14 at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg, Forrest County deputy coroner Lisa Klem said.

Workers under the age of 18 are not allowed to work in poultry plants because it’s deemed to be too dangerous and therefore a violation of child labor laws. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division have launched investigations into the incident, a spokesperson said. Any company found to be in violation could face a federal fine of more than $30,000 per incident.

The death was caused by equipment at the plant, Klem said, adding that the results of an autopsy will be released Wednesday.

Oh, well, $30,000, that ought to stop the company in the future from hiring kids. Especially Guatemalan ones, about whose lives they just don’t care.

I point out again that the states could still ratify the Child Labor Amendment, which even though was sent to the states in 1924, has a Supreme Court decision backing up that the way it is written, it can be ratified to the present.

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