County considers exemption for regional minimum wage at Six Flags America

Posted Tuesday, January 14, 2014 8:38 AM | Contributed by Jeff

An effort is underway in Prince George’s County to carve out an exemption to the much-ballyhooed “regional minimum wage” increase passed by lawmakers there, in Montgomery County and in Washington, D.C., last year. County Council member Derrick Leon Davis is expected to introduce a bill Tuesday that would let one of the county’s largest employers, Six Flags America, continue to pay its seasonal workers at the lower rate of $7.25 per hour instead of the wage that would increase to $11.50 per hour by 2017.

Read more from The Washington Times.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014 9:44 AM

Six Flags obviously has people smarter than I figuring this stuff out, but where are they going to find 2000 seasonal workers willing to earn $7.25 an hour when they can go across the street and make $11.50 an hour?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 9:59 AM

Don't underestimate the draw of working in a theme park. People can be quite fanatical about it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:28 AM

Don't overestimate the enthusiasm or fanaticism of the SFA employees.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:36 AM

Ha! Point taken. Haven't been there in a dozen years, but I get what you're saying.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 11:07 AM

Haven't been in a few years and my last visit or two was WAY better....

But, in the old days, they really did hire the people who got fired from PopCopy... (H/T Dave Chappelle).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:02 PM

Hanging n' Banging said:

... where are they going to find 2000 seasonal workers willing to earn $7.25 an hour when they can go across the street and make $11.50 an hour?

High Schools.

If this passes, it doesn't automatically mean that ALL of SFA's positions will pay $7.25 (or less than $11.50). I would expect those over 18 and/or in leadership positions would earn more than $8 per hour.

Students under 18, often with no proven work experience, have a more difficult time finding work. I suspectt many of them will work for $7.25 because the operation across the street won't pay the $11.50 an hour to train them.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:07 PM

Exactly. It's a summer job and I've always felt there should be a different minimum for seasonal work where no one is trying to make a living wage.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 7:38 PM

If "no one is trying to make a living wage" at a job (or type of job), why should someone be trying to make maximum profit off of those employees' work?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 8:20 PM

Because that's what a business is supposed to do? Not following you here...

Anyone working a seasonal job at the local theme park isn't likely paying a mortgage, utilities, and a car payment because These jobs are targeted at high school and college kids who need a source of money to maybe pay for the stuff they want to do. When I worked summer jobs I wasn't trying to make a living.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Tuesday, January 14, 2014 8:23 PM
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:12 PM

Supply and demand seems like such an obvious concept. They teach it in grade school. Why is it so foreign to people?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 11:15 PM

I think this boils down to whether a 'living wage' should be guaranteed to those who seek employment.

Because it sure seems to me that we've reached the point where bringing 'minimum skills' to the table isn't worth what we consider a 'living wage' in the world today.

You get minimum pay for minimum skills. Is that worth a living wage just for participating or has the bar been raised?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 11:26 PM

In the land of entitlement, everyone must earn...I mean get...a living wage.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 11:41 PM

Then why not just exclude all minors from the minimum wage law? Why not pay all teenagers in pop and candy for their time?

I'm not sure that I agree or disagree here, but I think I might be disagreeing with the idea that if you are a teenager, you should not be paid the same as someone who is living on their own. Should potential employers look at whether or not a potential new hire has a family or lives at home? Should a teen who lives at home who checks harnesses at Dollywood make less than an adult raising a family who checks harnesses at Dollywood?

Or are you saying that only teenager can work at certain jobs, and that adults with a family to raise work other, better-paying jobs? Only an adult can be a cook at the restaurant; teens have to bus tables? ...Or something?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:16 AM

Just because....the statutory minimum wage hasn't kept up with inflation. What was the minimum in 1968 ($1.60 then) would make today's minimum wage, accounting for inflation, $10.77.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:19 AM

Which sort of supports the theory that minimum skills aren't worth what they once were. The bar has been raised. We put less value on minimum skills than we once did.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:22 AM

LostKause said:

Then why not just exclude all minors from the minimum wage law? Why not pay all teenagers in pop and candy for their time?

That's a strawman argument. You know as well as I do that no one would work for that amount. These jobs pay what the market will allow.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:23 AM

Minimum wage sucks. No, I don't mean the minimum wage sucks because it's too low or whatever, I mean the idea of having a minimum wage at all sucks. It goes against a free market system.

Companies should be able to pay whatever they want for whatever position they offer. The higher the skillset or experience required, the higher the wage would naturally be. Period.

If the wage is so low that no one applies for the job, the company would obviously look into raising the find that "sweet spot" that we always talk about when we're discussing pricing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:02 AM

I could almost support your idea, but only if we charged (taxed) the employers hiring people for $2 an hour what their employees cost to the rest of society. Companies like Walmart pass untold billions of dollars in costs onto the taxpayers, who have to support their woefully underpaid employees through things like food stamps and medicaid. And that's with a minimum wage. Somewhere along the line, this country decided that giving employees at least the bare minimum to survive was part of the cost of doing business here. Low wage employers have greatly succeeded at passing much of that cost off onto the taxpayers.

Of course, I'm sure your response would be that we should just eliminate all government handouts (but only to private citizens, corporate welfare can stay). Because eliminating food stamps and lowering wages will somehow make the person who is already working 70 hours a week between two jobs get off their lazy butt and find a "real job."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 7:53 AM

Two thoughts:

It's easy to assume that a teenager has no real marketable skills that deserve more than minimum compensation, but that's not always true. Don't underestimate the value of having employees that are enthusiastic, have a positive attitude and care to do a good job. Some youngsters have better people skills than others, and some take what they do seriously. The pervading thought in this discussion seems to be that teenagers bring nothing to the table and therefore deserve only the minimum, but we all know that the way the ride hosts and food vendors treat us is very important and can leave a lasting impression, positive or negative. I'm not necessarily saying that they ought to be paid more, but for an industry that's based entirely on providing a pleasant and memorable experience, let's not kid ourselves by thinking that teenagers are interchangeable and disposable.

Also, I'm sure most of these places offer unlimited access to the park for their employees during their off hours, as well as cheap on-site housing. Those perks have value that is separate from wages.


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