Remembering Tom Lantos (1928-2008)

By National Consumers League staff

We were saddened to hear of last week’s passing of longtime friend to NCL and workers’ rights advocates, Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), who died February 11 at the age of 80. Five years ago, the National Consumers League honored Lantos with a Trumpeter Award for his advocacy for modernizing America’s child labor laws, work which started when he chaired the House Government Reform Employment and Housing Subcommittee hearings on the state of child labor in 1990.

We partnered with Lantos and his legislative staff in 2003 to introduce the Young Worker Protection Act, a bill proposed to eliminate exploitative child labor in the United States. Lantos was a firm believer in the need for updating antiquated child labor laws governing young American workers, and his bill would have made amendments to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act to reflect the realities of the 21st century workplace.

“The exploitation of child labor cannot be tolerated in America. It is not a thing of the past but a very real problem that continues to jeopardize the health, education, and lives of many of our nation’s youth workers. These youth work long, hard hours, often under dangerous conditions. [We seek] to eliminate the all-too-common exploitation of teen workers—working late into the night while school is in session and working under hazardous conditions,” Lantos said at a 2003 press conference on Capitol Hill.

It was a pleasure to have worked with Congressman Lantos. He will be missed.

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