Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Child labor on the cheap.

What kind of person would support lowering the minimum wage for child workers? The kind of person who gets elected to the Georgia legislature:

Teenagers could be paid less than the federal minimum wage if a business-friendly bill moving swiftly through the state Legislature is adopted. Critics say the measure is unfair to Georgia's youngest workers.

The state Senate this month approved a bill that would allow employers to pay workers under 20 at a rate of $4.25 an hour for up to 90 days. Minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, but since 1996 federal law has allowed a lower, training wage for young people. . . .

Susan Hankins, a Norcross mother and attorney, said the legislation would affect many young people who depend on summer income to help with yearlong expenses during college or high school.

"This bill's practical effect would be to establish a lower wage for all summer work or other short-term seasonal employment for people under 20," Hankins said. "These young people deserve a fair wage."

. . . . Earl Rogers, a lobbyist for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said the organization had not taken an official position on the bill but viewed it as harmless. "If it would give more youth an opportunity, we're not opposed to it," he said.

If the Georgia legislature had the power to establish slavery, I suspect Earl Rogers' response would be the same: "we're not opposed to it."

Unfortunately, most of the Senate voted for SB 92.