Gingrich Supports Plan to Replace Janitors
Last week, former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich called child labor laws "stupid" and advocated firing school janitors and replacing them with students that would make lower wages, reduce insurance costs and eliminate union interference. The comments resulted in some harsh criticism, but Gingrich went to the podium again to defend his controversial statement.
According to reports, he had this to say in a speech yesterday: "Let me get down to the janitor thing, and these letters are written that janitorial work is really hard and really dangerous and this and that," he said. "Fine. So what if they became assistant janitors and their job was to mop the floor and clean the bathroom. And you pay them."
Gingrich went on to say that the students could also serve as clerical assistants or assistant librarians. He compares this proposal to a project paying children to read books in Georgia.
Even after clarification of the original statement, many have concerns with such a proposal. The Labor Department, for instance, stresses that janitorial work is hardly easy. They note that janitors may "spend most of their time on their feet, sometimes lifting or pushing heavy furniture or equipment. Many tasks, such as dusting or sweeping, require constant bending, stooping, and stretching."
Aside from exposing students to the rigors of this job, many are concerned about what the proposal would do to the workforce.
According to some reports, the result would be a rise in unemployment, since there would be more "eligible" workers competing for the same, limited number of jobs. Wages might also go down, since adult workers would be forced to compete with children who, quite often, are willing to work for lower wages. Finally, many poor children may sacrifice their academic studies in order to put in more hours of janitorial work at school in order to help pay the family bills. The public school system would also become a place of employment for poorer children, blurring the purpose of the entire institution.
Watch the speech here.
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