Aberdeen Paper Ignores Referendum Against Youth Minimum Wage

The Aberdeen American News places some lazy journalism on its front page, discussing the discriminatory youth minimum wage as if it were a done deal and ignoring the fact that thousands of South Dakotans have signed a petition to suspend that pay cut and put it on the November 2016 ballot.

But come July 1, some young workers won’t be making the $8.50 minimum wage South Dakota voters approved in November.

During this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers altered the minimum wage law for workers younger than 18. The change sets the minimum wage at $7.50 for workers younger than 18 [Kaylyn Deiter, “Aberdeen-Area Teens Speak up on Lower Minimum Wage,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.06.15].

Technically, Deiter’s statement is true, but it’s like telling people the golf tournament starts at noon but failing to tell them that there’s a 95% chance of thunderstorms raining us out. We will submit our petition against the youth minimum wage on June 29. It may take Secretary of State Shantel Krebs a week or so to count and verify signatures—and she’ll have one, maybe two other petitions to review at the same time!—so the youth minimum wage will likely take effect as scheduled on July 1. Employers may get to short their young workers a buck an hour for the July 4 weekend (yay, freedom!). However, once Secretary Krebs certifies that we have more than the 13,871 signatures required, the youth minimum wage will be suspended, and young people will again have that equal labor protection until at least November 8, 2016.

Deiter finds three kids who oppose the minimum wage reduction and two who say pushing kids around is o.k.:

But the teenager who works in the pro shop at Moccasin Creek Country Club added he doesn’t necessarily think the youth minimum wage needs to be boosted, either. Instead, Dohrer viewed the wage difference as an incentive, a badge of seniority to be earned as he gets older.

“Yeah, we might get pushed around a little because we’re younger, but it’s just one of those things you need to work up to,” he said.

…Max & Erma’s hostess Abby Brennan, 15, receives tips in addition to her hourly pay. She said she understands why many people her age who don’t get tips would favor the higher minimum wage.

“I understand where a lot of people are coming from,” she said. “But for us, since we’re still younger, it’s probably OK” [Deiter, 2015.06.15].

The young apologists for the youth minimum wage sound like the freshmen I encounter who think getting hazed by the seniors during homecoming is a badge of honor. Kids, don’t be fooled by the older people who want to take advantage of you. No human being has to “work up to” or “earn” basic dignity in the workplace. It’s not o.k. to cheat a worker out of basic workplace protections—minimum wage, overtime, safety regulations—just because of the worker’s age. If we allow young people into the workplace, we must give the same labor protections that we give every other worker.

We have that equality now, thanks to the will of the voters who last year set the minimum wage at $8.50 for every worker. After a brief bureaucratic hiatus at the beginning of July, we will have that equality again.

14 Responses to Aberdeen Paper Ignores Referendum Against Youth Minimum Wage

  1. happy camper

    Low voter turnout will be on the side of the petitioners since those with an axe to grind will show but Cory is exaggerating the situation. They’re getting the same worker protections etc, it’s just the money that’s different. I’m not sure I’m worth $8.50 hardly, but I’ll tell you a lot of these kids ain’t. Wish the law was under 21 than just 18. Over the weekend some young person was thrilled I decided not to buy more paint. She almost gave a cheer that she wouldn’t have to work. They’re just not grown up and need more management, and in this case she was an absolute snot driving business away. The expectations and capabilities for kids are just different. Sixth graders don’t do high school work.

  2. mike from iowa

    It is called equal protection under the law,something kids and wingnuts appear to have no clues about. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable whether it be against young or old,male or female,persons of color,etc.

  3. Nick Nemec

    Happy Camper, you don’t sound too happy. I’ll remind you that SD is an employee at will state. You can fire that young girl who acts like a snot at the drop of a hat, stop gripping and get rid of her.

  4. last time all i could get w/advanced degrees was $8, it gave me a bit of an attitude. and i’m no spring chicken. soothsayers like this paint consumer have eagle-eyes in the check-out lines too, one notices, when people on assistance are publicly shamed for their choices.

  5. Richard Schriever

    Not to be a pessimist – but I’m fairly confident we can identify the two teens quoted as being future life-long “conservative” Republicans. And “camper” are you sure you didn’t mistake the sales clerk’s enthusiasm and support for your having taken charge of your own decision-making for something else? Reads to me like maybe YOU have a prejudicial bias against youth – in general????

  6. Happy, I do not exaggerate. With separate minimum wages, we are saying child workers get less protection against exploitation than adult workers. Lowering the minimum wage for any class of workers chips away at the basis for equal labor protections.

    There’s all sorts of hard work requiring training, experience, maturity, etc., that we don’t let certain people do. We can delineate those jobs and those workers with hiring decisions and higher pay and benefits. But we should address those distinctions after the minimum wage. Everyone gets the same basic protection for joining the workforce and submitting their liberty to the control of a boss.

  7. happy camper

    I understand Cory’s point if minimum wage was low enough to not exclude young workers entirely. If too high it’s just like No Child Left Behind. Sounded so good! But kids are not the same. Some are enthusiastic with good attitude (unlike my paint salesgirl) who just won’t get hired if minimum wage is too high. You’re discriminating against younger workers by forcing them to compete with adults. George Heidelberger.

  8. Deb Geelsdottir

    In my lifetime of SD experience, the state does not place a high value on children and youth. It’s apparent in money spent on schools, early childhood care, health care, food assistance and now wages. SD people are not valued, and children are valued even less.

    If any employee is not doing their job, fire them! Age is irrelevant. If they are doing their job, they ought to be paid equally. SD’s youth have internalized that devaluation and they know it’s been true for generations, so many of them don’t believe they are valuable. That is heartbreaking.

    In SD, people are not valued simply because they are human and they exist. They must prove value. That’s not a positive characterization.

  9. Roger Cornelius

    So, based on happy’s young snotty clerk that doesn’t like to sell paint, South Dakota children, “just ain’t worth it”. The assumption being that experiences of one young clerk makes ALL children lazy and irresponsible.
    If an employee of any age can’t be trained, you fire them. If you still can’t find a child to work at slave wages, you hire a competent adult, that will cost you more.
    For every child that Happy thinks “just ain’t worth it”, I can find 20 adults that “just ain’t worth it”, starting with state government from the governor on down.
    If a business owner or manager can’t provide basic training an $8.50 per hour, they have no business in business.
    Why is so difficult for South Dakota republicans to understand the meaning of equality, or does it apply just to them?

  10. happy camper

    “Age is irrelevant”: If you 2 years old act like 4, if you’re 10 act 13. If you’re 15 act like 21. Let kids be kids!!!

  11. Deb Geelsdottir

    Now where are you trying to take your argument HC? And what does “Let kids be kids!!” have to do with your previous statement that they’re “not worth it”? You’re reaching, and it’s not working.

  12. Hap—why not? Why wouldn’t the boss hire the promising recruit? If there is good reason, some genuine actuarial risk tied uniquely to hiring someone under 18, does a 12% pay cut really make up for that risk?

    I keep going back to what Roger says—there are good-for-nothings in every age group. Are there really more lazybones, meatheads, and troublemakers per 100 teenage job applicants than per 100 twenty-somethings? And if I’m the boss, can’t I identify and not hire those risky applicants, hire the qualified workers at the same starting wage, and go from there?

    Hap, if I understand where you’re going with the “let kids be kids” statement, I’d suggest that letting kids be kids means not pushing them into the workforce. Entering the workforce is a fundamental grown-up action. I think we do kids and the workforce a good service if we say, “The minimum wage is the same for everyone, regardless of age. If you’re going to enter the workforce, you’d better be ready to do at least $8.50 worth of work every hour. Mom and Dad, if your kid isn’t responsible enough to do that much work, don’t send your kid out to apply for jobs.” If we let kids apply for work and hold them to a lower standard, we say to them, “You’re not really part of the workforce. We don’t expect you to live up to grown-up responsibilities. Your lower minimum wage reflects our lower expectations… so go ahead, screw around.”

  13. Roger Cornelius


    I agree, let kids be kids, and those that want to remain kids should not be in the workforce.
    If you have a lower expectation of ALL these “ain’t worth it kids”, you have no business hiring them nor should anyone else.
    If you are not willing to train these “ain’t worth it” kids for specific jobs, you have no business hiring them. Your expectations for young people just entering the job market maybe too high and you probably shouldn’t hire them.
    A worthwhile employer that hires kids will teach them the job the expect done by the kids and provide them with a job description.
    Investing in employees takes time and money and the it is employers obligation as much as it the employees to get the job done right.

  14. well at least mcdonalds educates its young workers so they can explain higher prices are a result of the minimum wage. welcome koch brothers!!