Yesterday, people all over the planet observed World Day Against Child Labor, a day that marks a commitment to ensuring all children can live a full, happy childhood without being forced into work. One person who likely did not celebrate is former Maine Governor Paul LePage, who has long been an opponent of child labor laws.
When LePage was Governor, he tried on numerous occasions to roll back child labor laws. Those efforts included signing a bill into law which dialed back protections meant to stop employers from pressuring children into working longer hours. LePage’s reasoning for backing weaker child worker laws was simple: “employers could benefit.” Not satisfied with rolling back just one form of child labor protection, LePage kept on making the case for weakening child labor laws, going so far as to argue that it would help keep wages low and benefit businesses.
“One of the most appalling parts of serving in the Legislature during the LePage administration was watching the governor try over and over to repeal basic protections on child labor,” said Drew Gattine, Chair of the Maine Democratic Party. “It was clear then and clear now that he does not care about the welfare of Maine’s kids. Janet Mills, on the other hand, has always been a champion for children in Maine. We can’t go back to a governor who tried to make it easier for employers to exploit them.”
Governor Mills has made improving life for Maine’s children a top priority of her administration. Since taking office in 2019, she worked with Democrats in the legislature to strengthen the state’s child welfare system, fully fund public education, implement a groundbreaking universal school meals program, and expand access childcare for families across the state.