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As I See It

Letting young teens work without parental permission not the key to solving Wisconsin’s labor shortage



Four years after the pandemic began, Wisconsin still has a labor problem. There simply aren’t enough workers to fill all the open positions. So Republicans in Madison came up with a plan they say would help fill the labor gap. They passed a bill that would have done away with work permit requirements for our youngest workers. Under the proposal passed by the Legislature, 14 and 15-year-olds in Wisconsin would not need to get a work permit, or the permission of their parents, to enter the workforce. That would be true for those working as a busboy, or even in dangerous manufacturing jobs. Wisely, Governor Tony Evers yesterday vetoed the bill. He says he vetoed it because the bill would have eliminated the process that ensures children are protected from employers who may exploit them or subject them to dangerous conditions. Evers is right when he says asking more kids to work is not a serious solution to the state’s workforce issues. It isn’t likely this bill would have done much to close the labor gaps anyway. How many moms and dads would allow their teenage children to work if the state can’t protect the health and safety of our youngest workers?

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Greg Symons

    April 9, 2024 at 7:13 am

    I agree with your position on this subject. Parents should be informed and have control over their children’s lives. Why isn’t this same concern for parental rights not applied in areas of gender identification or abortion. It seems the left is only concerned about parental rights when it doesn’t conflict with their own agenda. Let’s be open and consistent with our positions on both sides.

  2. Walden

    April 9, 2024 at 11:47 am

    While I don’t object to this editorial, one could argue 14 and 15 year olds are exposed to various threats in public schools that are on balance worse than work places.

    Permission from parents should be required but I would like to hear the other side of the story as to why the legislature did not include that provision. But, as usual, we only get one side from WIZM.

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