An open letter to Sen. Butler, Rep. Gomez, Sen. Padilla.
  1. United States
  2. Calif.
  3. Letter

An Open Letter

To: Sen. Butler, Rep. Gomez, Sen. Padilla

From: A verified voter in Los Angeles, CA

June 28

As Congress moves forward with FY 2025 funding for the Department of Labor, and with child labor violations sharply on the rise, policymakers should ensure DOL can hire additional enforcement staff in the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and properly fund the Office of Solicitor of the Department of Labor (SOL) to ensure that WHD has the enforcement capacity it needs. A report from the Economic Policy Institute found that in 2023, the number of minors employed in violation of child labor laws increased by 37% over the previous year. And the DOL is reporting an 88% increase in overall child labor violations between 2019 and 2023. The exploitation of children in the workforce overwhelmingly impacts children of color, immigrant children, and children in low-wage-earning families―putting children in danger and exacerbating racial and income inequality. The passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 outlawed child labor by setting the general age to enter the workforce at 16 years old, limiting the number of hours children can work, limiting how late they can work on school nights, and protecting children from working in unsafe occupations. But today, those protections are threatened by lack of resources for enforcement. As Congress moves the FY25 Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill, I urge you to include an additional $7.5 million to hire 50 additional enforcement staff in the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to combat exploitative child labor, $3.8 million for the Office of the Solicitor/ Department of Labor (SOL) to ensure that WHD has enforcement capacity, and $10.7 million for SOL to offset over a decade of near-flat funding. Unfortunately, these are the kinds of investments that are threatened by harsh and arbitrary funding caps that would result in at least $75 billion in reduced funding for critical human needs. I urge Congress to reject cuts to the Department of Labor budget in FY2025 to ensure continued enforcement of child labor violations―and work to pass bipartisan spending bills that invest in our communities.

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