Starbucks runs + the newest XBOX game + concert tickets + gas money = empty wallet.

But didn’t I just get paid yesterday? Being a teenager is the biggest luxury and the biggest curse at the same time. We don’t have many responsibilities yet: no mortgage to pay off, no family to support and no table to put food on. This carefree, live-in-the-moment lifestyle is what every child dreams of and every adult reminisces upon.

However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have monetary obligations.  More often than not, the words “minimum wage” are associated with teenagers for the exact reason above: We don’t need full time, high paying jobs yet.  That means our bosses can scheme us out of the paychecks we deserve, right?

Wrong.

Take it from me: I’m your typical overbearing, extremely cheerful ice cream girl at a small food joint in western Massachusetts. Even though my job may seem like a joke to most, I put in a lot of time and effort to only be getting paid $5.25 an hour, when minimum wage is $8.25 in Massachusetts.

You’re probably thinking, “doesn’t she get tips?” The answer is yes, but tell me how many tips you make after splitting the money between five other girls on a typical New England night.

Of course, there are some nights when business is booming and tips exceed what a steady minimum wage job would offer in a single shift. But on the nights when my coworkers and I only make $20 in tips for a seven hour shift, our boss should compensate us for the difference.

I’m not alone. In a random poll done in 2010 by Gallup Economy Co., 49 percent of high school students and 52 percent of college students in the US felt that they were underpaid. This begs the question: Are underpaid teenage jobs flirting on the brink of slavery?

When we think of slavery, we tend to think of shackles and chains. Obviously, society is very different now than it was in the 1800’s, but the idea of slavery has remained constant through today.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, slavery is a condition in which one human being is owned by another. Technically, we are owned by the companies we work for, but this still leaves our question unanswered.

I strongly believe that being an underpaid, overworked young adult is extremely unfair and constitutes as a mild form of slavery. Our part-time jobs are not all we live for. Many of us go from class to practice, straight to work and then hopefully have some time to do homework before our alarms go off again.

Managers disregard our crazy schedules and treat the work we do lightly.  In California, officials understand the hardships of living off of a minimum wage income and have increased minimum wage to $10 an hour, bypassing Washington with the previous highest wage of $9.19 an hour. It’s time for New England to do the same.

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