Michigan teens are fighting a bill that would allow employers to pay them less


A bill being considered in Michigan would mean that employers could pay workers younger than 20 years old less than the state minimum wage of $8.50 per hour.

Some high school students in the state are actively fighting the bill. A group called the Michigan High School Democrats started a petition against the legislation on Change.org last week. “I just want to make sure that people know that this is very much an issue for young people,” Logan Arkema, 17, a senior at Byron Center High School and one of the students behind the petition, told Michigan Live.

In Michigan, employees under 18 can be paid less than state minimum wage: employers can pay either the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or 85 percent of Michigan’s minimum wage, whichever works out to be higher. This bill would extend that to everyone under 20.

“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 reads.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Margaret O’Brien (a Republican senator from Portage, Mi.) told Michigan Live that she sees the lower wage as a way to make hiring young applicants more appealing for employers. The state senate has yet to vote on the bill, though it passed the State Senate Committee’s review in June last year.

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