MECEP has reservations about L.D. 516 because we believe it effectively eliminates reasonable, long-standing protections that ensure our teenage workers strike a proper balance between education and work.
Educating our children is perhaps the most important action we as a state can take to ensure our economic vitality and prosperity for all Maine people. In an increasingly global and interconnected economy, Maine’s future is dependent upon an educated, skilled workforce that can adapt to changing conditions and times.
Removing current restrictions on the number of hours a teenager can work seriously threatens to undermine the delicate but reasonable balance between school and work policymakers implemented to ensure that students earn the skills necessary to be engaged citizens and productive employees over the long-term.
It is worth noting that Maine does not face a labor shortage necessitating such a change in policy. More than 52,000 Mainers remain unemployed, and the total is more than 100,000 if long-term unemployed and underemployed are counted. Many of these unemployed are members of families that include teenage children. The best economic measure would be to put Maine’s unemployed back to work while allowing their children to continue to balance effectively school and work.
Accordingly, the Maine Center for Economic Policy urges this Committee to reject L.D. 516.
Dan Coyne, Fiscal Policy Analyst, testifying before the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development in opposition to L.D. 516, “An Act To Amend Maine Law To Conform with Federal Law Regarding Employment Practices for Certain Minors”