Minimum wage change in Massachusetts

I don’t know if you have heard the news, but there is a bill being considered in Massachusetts that will change the minimum wage rate teens make in comparison to adults.

Essentially, the bill will make it so teens make less money per hour than an adult doing the exact same job.

Except, I have a problem with “doing the exact same job” part. And here’s why.

I started working at Shaw’s when I was 15 years old. Gradually, I became a better worker and made my way up to a supervisor role. Of course, a supermarket is such a stereotypical high school job for teenagers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t adult part timers that work there, too. And at the Shaw’s I worked in, there were a lot of them.

Some of those adult have worked there for years – longer than I’ve even been alive. And I respect them for having and keeping the job, even though it isn’t the most glamorous. But, there is no way 40-60 year old women who can barely see and need to wear gloves before touching the registers are better workers than I am.

There are some teens out there whose parents forced them into a job that they don’t want, so they don’t perform well. And there are some adults who work really hard, and go above and beyond expectations. So I don’t mean to generalize everyone into one category, but speaking from experience I think the proposed bill idea is absolute nonsense.

The “kids” that work there more scan items faster than anyone else. They talk to the customers, scan the items, and get the customers out of the store quickly – which is what we want! There are very few people who actually enjoy going to the grocery store. Most customers want in and out, and the younger kids can do that.

Some adults on the other hand, take double the time (if not more) to check out an order with the same amount of items, or less.

So you mean to tell me that an adult who gets one customer out the door to a teen’s three is worth more money to employers than a teen is?

I don’t think so.

An argument I heard on the news this morning was that a store owner had to train a teenager how to use a broom, and that’s why she felt paying teens less was a good option.

That’s all well and good, and I feel sorry for that teen that didn’t know how to use a broom. But no matter what job it is or how old the person is, the employer HAS to train the new employee. So you won’t waste an extra two minutes training an adult how to sweep up the floor, but I can almost guarantee that in most instances you’ll get more out of your hire when you bring a teen on board.

And if you need proof of this, I have an example. If you are a returning reader to my blog, you know my story. And you know that my boyfriend, Joe, is a Customer Service Manager at Shaw’s which means he runs the checkout department.

When he was in the Peabody store, the managers would hassle him weekly to “hire more teens” because they needed speed in the checkout.

Oh, and I know that if I was a teen working in a grocery store that made $8.00/hour when there was an adult working directly behind me making $10.00, I would not want to be an efficient worker. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even want a job.

That’s another problem I have with this proposed bill.

If teens don’t want to get a job when they have the least amount of commitments possible, it will make them less likely to want a job in the future because they won’t know the value of working. College is so expensive, cars are expensive, LIFE is expensive and unless those kids have parents who can give them handouts for the rest of their life, they need to have a job.

We have enough problems in this country with people not working. And not just because there aren’t jobs out there to get – but because people are either too lazy or enjoy the government handouts too much. (Harsh, I know. But the truth hurts). We don’t want teens who are just starting off to go down that path because once you’re on it you won’t get off.

I worked my ass off in college to get where I am. It’s not the Editor-in-Chief of the New York Times, and I’m certainly no expert on proposing bills to the state legislature, I get that. But, it bothers me that a bill like this could make the next generation of teens – and then college students – not work as hard as I did. Not because they aren’t smart, or because they don’t want to, but because of what working will seem like to them.

Because I have worked since I was 15, I know the value of a dollar and I know how important it is to be successful in my life. I try hard every day to be that successful person. And, even though as a 16 year old you might be bummed about working on a Friday night instead of going out with your friends, when you are 22, graduated college with Summa Cum Laude honors, and have a job you are proud of because you worked hard to get there – you realize that part time job was worth it.

We want people to want to work and this bill will make it completely the opposite. And, quite frankly, I think it will make businesses far less productive.

Before I conclude, I know teens aren’t better workers everywhere. And I know adults aren’t useless. My dad works in the deli at Shaw’s now for less money than I make at Shaw’s (when I work one day a week). He works harder than anyone I know. So it doesn’t go for everyone. But put yourself in the shoes of a teenager who is doing everything they can do the right thing and get a job, only to find out their efforts aren’t as good because of their age.

Alright, rant over. Have a wonderful weekend, bloggers. 🙂


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