POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Under-22 cut illogical move

Question: Should Arizona lower minimum wage for workers under 22?

With the Arizona House’s latest approach to the economic crisis, if you are under 22, your livelihood could be at stake.

Introduced by Rep. Laurin Hendrix, R-Gilbert, HB 2639 proposes to lower the standard minimum wage of workers under 22. The bill mandates that these workers will receive 75 percent of the current minimum wage — from $7.25, to $5.44 an hour for the remainder of 2010 until December 31, 2013, according to the Arizona Legislature Web site.

The bill has already passed a House committee and must pass the state Legislature to become enacted into law.

Sen. Meg Cahill, D-Tempe, said that the bill was short-sighted, and she wouldn’t support it.

“The voters passed a minimum wage along with a cost of living index a couple years ago,” she said. “Minimum wage is minimum wage, I don’t believe that there should be exceptions to that. Everyone is entitled to minimum wage or more, no matter age.”

If HB 2639 is enacted into law, it will be a detriment to the Arizona labor force.

There are many adults that it directly affects, including self-sufficient students, young married couples and young adults with families. Instead of creating jobs for people in these positions, it will make it harder for them to maintain a stable income. This may trigger an increase in the number of independent adults who turn to government aid for financial assistance just to get by.

It is not logical that under-22 year olds should get less pay than the federal minimum wage standard. It is age discrimination.

High school workers and adults under 22 still have to pay the same amount of taxes. From age 18 on, you can marry, be legally accountable for your actions and go to war, but if this bill passes, you will receive less pay for the same job than someone older than 22.

Another issue with this proposal is its potential effect on older workers, who may have a harder time finding a job for minimum pay when there are younger workers getting paid almost two dollars less. In addition to making it more difficult for those within the age bracket to make a solid living, it also then stifles job creation for those above it.

As a student population, we need to take collective action and stand up against this. It is wrong to reduce minimum wages on the sole basis of age, especially when the jobs created would not be worth the struggle that would ensue. We are adults with a voice. Don’t let the state encroach on your ability to make a buck. Be heard.

To inform Alana of her wage cut, reach her at alana.arbuthnot@asu.edu

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