Michigan’s high school students are fighting against a state bill that would let employers hire people under 20 for less than the minimum wage.
High School Democrats of America, lead by Logan Arkema, 17, has started an online petition seeking a hundred signatures against the state’s Senate Commerce Committee.
Currently employers in Michigan are legally allowed to pay people under the age of 18, either 85% of the state’s minimum wage or the federal minimum wage, whichever is greater. Republican Sen. Margaret O’Brien, who supports the Senate Bill 250’s proposal to change the law to include all people under 20, says the bill will encourage employers to give jobs to people with little experience.
"We want to get their foot in the door. ... If they can get their foot in the door and get the training and experience they need, then their wage will go up to minimum wage or higher," O'Brien said.
However, Arkema disagrees stating O’Brien’s bill is only appealing to employers as they can now take advantage of the youth’s low wage and make them do the same task as older workers.
Michigan’s current minimum wage is $8.5 per hour and if the bill is passed, employers will be allowed to pay people under 20 the lower federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. This is an unexpected and unwelcome blow for the youth of Michigan, who have just recently celebrated an increase in the state’s minimum wage by $0.35 on Jan 1, under the proposal of then-Senator majority Leader Randy Richardville.
“As we try to pay for college, which is becoming increasingly expensive, or begin our own lives, which is not easy for a young person, we ask that our wages not be reduced when we are at our most financially insecure point of our lives,” the petition, which has received 1174 supporters as of writing this, states.
The State Commerce Committee approved the bill in June, however it could come up for a vote later this year.
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