Testimony opposing bill establishing sub-minimum wage and expanded work hours for students

Testimony in opposition to LD 1346: An Act To Enhance Access to the Workplace for Minors
Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Public Hearing
Friday, April 15, 2011, 1:00 PM

Senator Rector, Representative Prescott, Distinguished Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development, my name is Brian Hubbell and I am the chair of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, a school district of 1700 students  comprising the towns of Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, Tremont, Trenton, Cranberry Isles, Frenchboro, and Swan’s Island.  I am before you today as their representative.

LD 1346 seeks to establish a sub-minimum wage for students and to increase the number of hours that a student may be expected to work during school days.

As community leaders, we understand that one of our highest charges is to prepare our children with the best opportunities for a successful future.  Building such success depends not only on doing well in high school, but also being prepared for a rigorous post-secondary education.  Our Governor has stated that he intends to make a Maine education the best in the country. We’re eager and prepared to deliver on his promise.

But to accomplish this, our students must be dedicated to their schooling. School must be their full-time job.  

If students instead face conflicts and diversions as a pool of cut-rate labor, their immediate chances for success at school will be diminished and, in consequence, their long-term prospects will be proportionally weakened.

Our students do depend on weekend and summer employment. The costs of college already strain most students and their families to the limit.  They need and deserve fair wages for their employment.

So, at our meeting on Monday evening, our regional school board voted to oppose this bill and asked me to represent their view on this issue with this sentence:

With insufficient time already in the school week, we oppose having students, already vulnerable in the workplace, further torn by additional obligations made by employers.

Please vote this bill Ought Not To Pass. Neither LD 1346 nor its companion LD 516 should go forward.