Center for Political Awareness

Child Labor Could Solve Alabama’s “Labor Shortage,” Says Republican Group

The Alabama Policy Institute wants to loosen child labor laws to address a labor shortage caused by too-low pay. (Click image for article.)

Photo: Fast food workers protest at the closed Popeyes Louisiana Chicken on International Boulevard in Oakland, California, on May 18, 2023. JANE TYSKA / DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA / EAST BAY TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES

On January 16, the Alabama Policy Institute (API), a right-wing think tank, published a sort of reactionary wish list: a 2024 “BluePrint [sic] for Alabama” containing 30 policy priorities for the state’s right wing. Among familiar conservative touchstones (ensuring tax “relief” for corporations and the rich; attacking diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives along with COVID restrictions and medication abortion; “protecting” children from “explicit library materials”; and “resist[ing] Medicaid expansion”) could be found a proposal that, until relatively recently, might have seemed radically anachronistic — preposterous, even.

Yet API’s suggestion was fully in accordance with recent tendencies on the U.S. right, which has embarked on a campaign to (in the institute’s euphemistic turn of phrase) “remove barriers for minor work authorization.” Alabama, the report’s writers insist, is in the midst of a labor shortage. Who better to conscript into the depleted ranks of the workforce than the state’s surplus 14- and 15-year-olds?

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