Business group calls for separate minimum wage for teen workers

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– It’s not quite summer in Massachusetts, but many teens are looking ahead to their next summer job.

Alexandra Welkins of Springfield is one of those who is hoping she will be able to make some money this season.

“Like summer break, it’s really important that I get a lot of hours during that time,” Welkins  said.

She told 22News she has had some kind of a job since she was 14 years old.

“I pay for everything myself: my school, my car insurance and everything like that, so I feel like I should be making just as much, because I have a lot to pay for myself and I’m a student, so things can get very expensive,” Welkins said.

The state’s House Democrats are proposing a plan to up the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour, but one business group is arguing that teens should have a separate minimum wage that would last over a 90-day probation period.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts suggests teens make 50 cents less than the minimum wage for their first three months of employment.

That proposal isn’t sitting well with one 19 year old American International College freshman.

“I just don’t feel like it’s fair. Obviously, teens are doing the same work as an adult, like someone who’s maybe even just two years older than them, that they’re not qualified as a teen anymore,” Sam Gouldaper said.

RAM’s General Councilor, Ryan Kaearney, told 22News, their idea would give employers an incentive to higher less-skilled workers, and that high minimum wage levels are one of the reasons there has been a significant loss of teen jobs over the past decade and a half.

Kaearney also said 26 other states have adopted some form of a teen training wage below their respective minimum wage.

What do you think about the issue? Make your voice heard in today’s 22News Interactive Internet Poll.

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