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House Backs 'Training' Wage, Increase in the Minimum Rate

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Washington--The House last week voted overwhelmingly to raise the hourly minimum wage from $3.35 to $4.25 beginning next April and to create a "training" wage for teenagers with less than six months of work experience.

The bill, which represents a compromise between the White House and Congressional Democrats, would raise the minimum wage for the first time in nearly a decade.

Under the measure, employers could pay 85 percent of the minimum--or $3.23 an hour initially--to workers ages 16 through 19 for up to three months. The provision would expire in 1993.

Teenagers who change jobs and enroll in a training program certified by the Labor Department could be paid the sub-minimum wage for another three months.

Earlier this year, President4Bush vetoed a bill that would have raised the base wage to $4.55 an hour and set a two-month training wage for all new workers. Congressional leaders have since worked to reach a compromise with the White House.

Although Congressional leaders from both parties hailed the new agreement as a victory for workers, it was strongly criticized by labor unions, which have opposed the training-wage concept since its inception during the Nixon Administration.

Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said the compromise bill was "disgraceful" because it included the sub-minimum wage.

The Senate is expected to vote on the measure before Thanksgiving.--rrw

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