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Western Michigan Students Speak Out Against Sen. O’Brien’s Bill to Cut Minimum Wage

KALAMAZOO – Students from Western Michigan University gathered on campus today to oppose new legislation introduced by Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) that would cut the minimum wage by 15 percent for workers under the age of 20. O’Brien’s bill, SB 250, would cut the wages of 18 and 19-year-old college students who work minimum wage jobs, even though they are old enough to vote, sign legal contracts, and enlist in the Armed Forces.

“This bill is bad news for college students,” said Danielle Snow, a sophomore majoring in Sociology. “This is going to mean thousands of students who work minimum wage jobs will have to take a pay cut, even though we’re old enough to vote. That’s just wrong. Everyone who works for a living deserves to be paid enough to make ends meet and have a decent life. I hope Sen. O’Brien will do the right thing and withdraw her bill.”

In 2014, Republicans and Democrats in Lansing voted to pass bipartisan legislation that will raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.25 by 2018. The new law raise the wages of over 1 million Michigan workers by the time it takes full effect.

O’Brien’s bill represents a step backwards, and will be especially harmful to the thousands of college students she represents on campuses like WMU, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

“College is expensive enough as it is, and the last thing students can afford is a pay cut,” said Cory King, a political science major entering his senior year. “Cutting wages and denying young workers from earning the full minimum wage will make it harder to afford basic things like books, groceries, and rent. People’s hard work should be recognized and rewarded, regardless of their age. Sen. O’Brien needs to get her priorities straight and focus on raising wages for all working people.”

At the current minimum wage of $8.15 per hour, a full-time worker earns $16,952 per year. However, if SB 250 becomes law, the same worker would have their paycheck cut by $2,542 per year.

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