A Michigan bill proposing to lower the minimum wage for young adults has received pushback from young people in the state.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Margaret O'Brien, allows employers to pay workers under 20 years old either the federal minimum wage or 85 percent of the state’s minimum wage, whichever is higher. This means that under the proposed bill, youth workers could be earning the federal wage of $7.25 per hour rather than the state wage of $8.50 per hour.
The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 250, was introduced in the state legislature in April 2015 and approved by the Senate Commerce Committee in June, although it has not yet come up for a vote on the Senate floor, reported MLive.
O’Brien introduced the bill as an incentive for businesses to take on younger employees; as they train at their job and gain more experience, the goal is to have youth work their way up to a higher wage, according to MLive. O’Brien has also emphasized that the bill will not cut the pay of people under 20 who are already working, and that it will mostly affect small businesses, since large chain stores generally pay a nationwide wage for all of their employees across the country.
However, the legislation has received strong opposition from youth in the state, including high school senior Logan Arkema, who believes that the bill is an excuse to pay young people lower wages for doing the same work.
"I just want to make sure that people know that this is very much an issue for young people," Arkema, 17, told MLive. He has started a petition and is raising signatures to protest the legislation.
The bill also proposes raising the training wage, which employers can pay people under 20 in their first 90 days on the job, from $4.25 to $6.25 per hour. In Michigan, 3.8 percent of hourly workers currently work at or below the minimum wage, according to Town Hall.