Some Lawmakers Want to Require Minimum Wage for Piecework Laborers in Virginia

Jan 11, 2019

The minimum wage does not apply to all workers, and Virginia law has several categories of workers who are exempt.  Although, some lawmakers want to change that.

Newsboys. Shoe-shine boys. Ushers. Doormen. Concession attendants. Theater cashiers. Employers who hire people to fill these jobs are not required to pay the minimum wage.

Delegate Cia Price of Newport News says these exemptions have an unfortunate history.

“It was during the Jim Crow era, and so this is specifically historically racist language, part of our dark past that is still in the code of Virginia. And it’s really time to get rid of that Jim Crow era language.”

Those aren’t the only exemptions. Virginia law also exempts people who get paid on the basis of the amount of work done.

Senator Janet Howell of Reston is introducing a bill to get rid of that exemption in honor of her mother, who was a union organizer who help organize piecework laborers.

“My mother would be very proud to have Virginia join every other state in guaranteeing that pieceworkers got the minimum wage.”

Several lawmakers are introducing bills that would increase the minimum wage, although Republicans say those efforts have little chance of making it out of the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.