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Resolutions & Amendments

26th International Convention - San Francisco, CA (1984)

Subminimum Wage for Youth

Resolution No. 217
26th International Convention
June 18-22, 1984
San Francisco, CA


The Reagan Administration continues to push for a sub-minimum wage for youth of $2.50/hour for workers under the age of 20 during the months of May through September. A youth paid the minimum wage of $3.35/hour in previous summers would be paid only $2.50/hour this summer for the same work. Many youth are self supporting, heads of households, or make significant monetary contributions to keep their families out of poverty; and


Reports have shown that fifty percent of all minimum wage earners are adults, 25% of whom are female household heads. Moreover, a disproportionate share are minorities. Unskilled adults competing directly with teenagers for minimum wage jobs would lose their jobs, if youths were paid lower rates; and


The National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM), along with other organizations, has endorsed an experimental program which would establish a sub-minimum wage for youth working in the summer months. Unemployment for all youth is a tragically high 19%. However, black teens have an intolerable unemployment rate of close to 45%. Obviously, special jobs and training programs must be developed to deal with this issue. While AFSCME understands the special concerns of NCBM and other organizations who feel that solutions must be developed immediately, the answer is not a sub-minimum wage. There is no evidence that such a program would increase job opportunities, while there is evidence that adults would be displaced; and


The Reagan Administration has cut funding for the Youth Employment Demonstration Projects Act, the Summer Youth Employment Program, Job Corps, and other youth employment and training programs. Instead of cutting programs, the President and congress should attack the problem of youth unemployment directly by initiating more federal jobs programs and providing incentives for the creation of new jobs; and


The sub-minimum proposal would base a worker's wage on age, rather than on the value of the work performed. Using age as a criteria for determining pay violates the principles of equal pay for equal work.


That AFSCME opposes any attempt to establish a sub-minimum wage for youth, even if ruled experimental; and


That AFSCME will urge Congress to create job and training programs that will provide youth with work experience, skills, and training that can produce productive, self-sustaining adults; and


That AFSCME supports and will urge Congress to enact legislation that provides federal funds for after-school and summer jobs that would enable disadvantaged youngsters to complete high school and gain necessary job skills such as provided in the Youth Incentive Employment Act, H.R. 5017, sponsored by Representative Augustus Hawkins (D-Calif.).


International Executive Board