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Public Papers - 1989 - November

Statement on Signing the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1989

1989-11-17

Today I am pleased to sign H.R. 2710, the ``Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1989.'' This law will increase the minimum wage, in two increments, to .25 an hour beginning April 1, 1991. It also:

-- authorizes a training wage for teenagers for up to 6 months, at 85 percent of the regular minimum wage;

-- expands the exemption for small business and raises the tip credit; and

-- exempts employer-provided remedial education programs from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime requirements.

This legislation is consistent with the increase in the minimum wage I proposed last March. H.R. 2710 represents an agreement reached between the Administration, the leadership in Congress, and the leadership of organized labor.

The agreement in this bill on a training wage for teenagers is an historic step. Through much of this decade, resistance to a training differential has stalled efforts to enact any minimum wage increase.

H.R. 2710 balances the widespread sentiment for an increase in the minimum wage with the very justifiable concerns of employers, particularly small businesses, about the effects of higher costs, and at the same time provides protection for young workers' job opportunities. On average, our growing economy has created a quarter million jobs a month, every month, for the last 7 years -- most of them in small businesses. By expanding and increasing the FLSA small business exemption, we have done much to preserve the admirable capacity of American entrepreneurs to grow from today's small employers into the larger employers of tomorrow. That is good for the economy; it is good for America's work force.

Similarly, increasing the tip credit will enhance job security for those so employed and increase job opportunity for those seeking such work.

The enactment of this historic minimum wage increase, containing a first-ever training wage, is indeed a positive step. Now that this bill is law, I reiterate my call for us to work together, the Congress and the executive, on improvements in Federal education and training policy. In the wake of our Education Summit with the Governors, this is all the more urgent. As the Summit made clear, not only do the States and the Federal Government agree that this deserves high priority, but there is also much agreement, in general terms at least, on what kinds of steps need to be taken.

George Bush

The White House,

November 17, 1989.

Note: H.R. 2710, approved November 17, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 157.

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