The restaurant industry and their lobbying group have been revealed as the major pushers of legislation that would weaken child labor laws, as the industry hopes to exploit this source of cheap labor. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: The restaurant industry and their lobbying group have been revealed as the major pushers of legislation that would weaken child labor laws as the industry hopes to exploit this source of cheap labor. Now that’s what it is, right? You got, we’re on a big, big cheap labor effort by corporate America right now. Whether it’s hotels, whether it’s restaurants, whether it’s in industry of every kind. You got two things going on. You got people coming, children coming across the border, expendable, all the folks coming across the border are expendable. Use ’em up, ship ’em back, kill ’em if you have to, ship ’em back. But here you’re talking about children, both immigrant children and US citizens, that they’ve figured out, we can make a lot of money by having these kids work in these dangerous jobs. We don’t have to pay ’em as much. Right?

Farron Cousins: Right. And it’s just like back in the old days, oh, well we hired the kids to go into the printing press because they’re smaller and they can dislodge things and get this big machinery going again. That’s how kids were losing fingers and arms and lives. But what we’re seeing here with the restaurant industry behind the push, when I saw this story, it clicked for me. The restaurant industry itself is a massive employer of undocumented immigrants. It’s typically an industry where you can manage to have a couple people where you just strictly pay in cash. There’s not a lot of oversight. So to expand this to where they can bring in the migrant children, well, they know, okay, listen, I’ve got a couple folks in here who are undocumented. They’ve got kids, I can bring their kids in too. Pay them $5 an hour instead of $10 an hour. They can’t say anything to complain about it. So it just expands this cycle of abuse that the migrant workers are facing.

Mike Papantonio: I wrote a book, last book I wrote, it’s called Inhuman Trafficking. It’s fiction, but it’s based on the cases that we’ve handled. And what we saw there was they were doing, they’re recruiting workers in the restaurant business in Europe. Right. They’d go to Ukraine and they would say, you know, you want a job in the service industry, come to the United States. We can put you in a restaurant. Okay. The get ’em over here. They take all of their IDs away, they isolate ’em, they put ’em in a room with 20 other kids. They then say, you know, you’re not making enough at the front desk. I mean, you know, you’re a greeter, you can make a lot more serving.

So they move ’em to serving. Oh, you can make a lot more if you can come over here, serve during the day and dance on the pole at night. And oh, by the way, you can make even more money than dancing on the pole if you will just meet Ted here. This little freakish guy, Ted. And all of a sudden the human trafficking goes into that. This is not exactly the same thing, but it’s the same mentality. You’ve got an entire restaurant industry that says, we want these kids working in industrial freezers. We want ’em working in meat coolers. We want ’em to do an industrial laundry. We want to expand the hours, you know, well, let’s expand the hours that they’re able to work. It’s nothing but exploitation.

Farron Cousins: It really is. And corporations also know that even for US citizens under the age of 18, for the first 90 days, you can pay them any wage you want. It does not have to be minimum wage.

Mike Papantonio: And then fire ’em after 90 days.

Farron Cousins: Exactly. Well, what’s the 90 day period? Well, that’s the summer period for these kids that are still in school. So you get cheap summer labor, which is typically the busiest time for all these industries.

Mike Papantonio: You’d be glad to know that the Koch family is behind this.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: The Koch family, they’re the ones really pushing this. So this is taking place in Ohio, Minnesota, Arkansas, Wisconsin. And nobody’s gonna stop it. You know, nobody’s gonna stop it. And we’re gonna see more deaths. You know, kids arms, when it comes to the immigrants, their arms are gonna be cut off, we’ll ship ’em back to Mexico or Guatemala. With the US kids, well, you know, let’s put ’em on hours that are like 12, you know, 12 hours a day day because they wanna work as much as they can before school starts again. Right?

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And eventually, you know, now that we’re in the 2020s, we’re gonna have to go back and repass the legislation we passed in the 1920s to get the kids out of the coal mines again.

Mike Papantonio: Right, right, right. Farron, thanks for joining me. Okay.

Farron Cousins: Thank you.

Mike Papantonio: That’s all of this week, but all these segments are gonna be available throughout next week. And make sure you follow us on Twitter @AmericasLawyer. I’m Mike Papantonio and this has been America’s Lawyer where we tell you the stories every week that corporate media can’t tell you because their advertisers don’t allow ’em to tell those stories. They’re making too much money from their advertisers or their political connections to Republican or Democrat won’t permit them to tell the story because it just wouldn’t fit to their agenda. We don’t have that problem. So we’ll see you next time.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.