09 February 2023

Republicans control the Iowa legislature, so...

Some relevant comments at the antiwork subreddit thread.

Not to be outdone, in Wisconsin here is a 14-year old working in a fast-food establishment...

"According to the Fair Labor Standards Act Amendments in 1996, employers are allowed to pay workers under 20 years of age $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment.

Employers are not allowed to replace current workers with employees under 20 and are also not allowed to fire them before the 90-day window has elapsed, but it still provides an opportunity for exploitation for employers who want to hire cheap workers."
For context, I had my first summer job at age 16, selling woolen clothes door-to-door in July, paid on commission only.  After the first week I had spent more parking my car at the business than I had made in commissions, so my mom helped me find a job in a Green Giant pea-packing plant in rural Minnesota.  Twelve-hour shifts, seven days a week at minimum wage (unless it rained in which case you didn't work).  I told that story back in 2010.

And for further context, my mom started working on her parents' farm when she was old enough to hold the reins of a team of horses that pulled the cultivator (a hired man would put the horses into harness).  Neighbors said it "looked like there was a big straw hat riding the cultivator."


  1. "[The] new bill introduced in the Iowa Legislature would rewrite Iowa's child labor law to allow teens to work in previously prohibited jobs so long as they are part of an approved training program.

    As with the existing law, the bill outlines the jobs that 14-17-year olds can do, like bagging and carrying groceries to cars, clerical work and preparing and serving food.

    The bill also maintains a list of jobs kids under 18 can't hold, such as working in slaughterhouses, meatpacking or rendering plants; mining; operating power-driven metal forming, punching or shearing machines; operating band or circular saws, guillotine shears or paper balers; or being involved in roofing operations or demolition work."


  2. I'm 70, and I started working on a truck farm in Orlando when I was 12, picking tomatoes and beans. Wilber Sangster, a wonderful old gentleman had a crew of boys around that did that kind of work. I guess you could say he was taking advantage, but he created a genuine work ethic in his employees. We genuinely enjoyed the work and the bull sessions after, sitting in the back of the truck eating salted tomatoes and talking about the day.

  3. "an image of what appears to be a very young child (likely a 14-year-old) working behind the cash register at Culver’s..."

    I'll agree that that child certainly appears to be 14 (or even10), but it would be nice if the reporter could verify facts before placing them in a newspaper article.

    "Despite having worked since I was 14 as well, this writer can recognize the difference between my place of employment, which require very light manual labor and potentially working in the kitchen of a fast food restaurant."

    The reporter could check child labor laws in Wisconsin:

    Liquor, Meat Slicers, Bakery Machines, Cooking & Wis.
    Admin. Code DWD 270.12(4), & (15), DWD 270.13(10).

    OK for 16 and over–
    1. Cooking
    2. Baking
    C. Prohibited to ALL MINORS1. Meat slicers and grinders
    2. Serving, selling, dispensing, giving away alcoholic beverages
    D. SEE Liquor, Meat Slicers, Bakery Machines, Cooking & Wis.
    Admin. Code DWD 270.12(4), & (15), DWD 270.13(10).

  4. My first job (not counting paper routes and baby-sitting) was at the snackbar of our local pool, when I was fifteen. Minimum wage, which I think was $2.50 then, though I might be remembering that, for a 40 hour work-week. We ran the primitive cash registers, dealt with swarms of children, made coffee and hot dogs, and cleaned the place at night before we closed out. It was exhausting for the first couple of weeks, and boring after that.

  5. “Liquor, Meat Slicers, Bakery Machines, Cooking & Wis.”
    For the life of me I can’t figure out what “Wis” is?

    Other than lawn mowing and cleaning the church while the Sexton was on vacation the first was on a farm in CT putting in hay for two brothers that had near 500 cattle on their two farms 20 miles apart. Throw 60/70 lb bales up 10 high on a flatbed 3½ ft off the ground, load 4 trucks then pack it away in the barns. Usually 9 hours a day but might be 14 if Schedule (never did find out his real name) got drunk and mowed too much. Because once it’s cut it’s got to be baled and put away, you know what your lawn clippings look after 24 hours. Did this for 3 years at the princely sum of 90¢ an hour. Turned 16, got a licence, quit, like the damn ingrate kids who don't want to work any more. On the upside, in CT I could buy a carton of cigarettes for $3.80.

    1. The "Wis" carries over to the next line as an abbreviated form of "Wisconsin" in "Wisconsin Admin. Code..." It's the ampersand that seems anomalous. I think the person typing it up was supposed to use an @ symbol, not &.

  6. The problem is not that teenagers should not be allowed to work. The problem is that employers are allowed to pay them less than already abysmal minimum wage. In the end, this is a measure that allows employers to lower their labor cost by exploiting children.

    Also, there should be provisions make sure the kids can still go to school, and that they get to keep their money themselves. Kids should not be working to maintain their family.

    1. “Kids should not be working to maintain their family.”


    2. Thousands of children work every day to "maintain" their family on farms and in family owned businesses, and many more thousands work at minimum wage jobs to help maintain their families. Most of them do it willingly or because there is no other choice. I started working at 14 to help my widowed mother afford to buy the first and only house she ever owned (she was 49 years old). Without the efforts of my brother and me, she could not have afforded the fixer-upper house that she managed to pay off by age 62. Never missed a day of school because of work. Helping my mother live her dream of home ownership is something I am proud of. Extremely proud.

  7. I got my first job at 14 working at a gas station/feed store. The entire interview process involved someone pointing at a 50lb bag of water softener salt and telling me to put it on my shoulder, which I was able to do, barely. When I left I could carry three with ease, more than I weighed.

    I think work experience is good for young people. It shouldn't exploit.

  8. Most of them do it willingly or because there is no other choice.

    That is not what willingly means.

    And thanks for making my point. There should be another choice.

    1. Always happy to help you make your point…

    2. See the new GIF I inserted as an addendum today. :-)

    3. That is great. I was thinking, "I wonder if he can carry two?"', then he did!


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