Six Flags America wants exemption from new Prince George's minimum wage

The theme park opened in Upper Marlboro in 1974. Photo: Truco/Wikimedia Commons

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJLA) - Prince George's County will have a minimum wage of $11.50 per hour by the year 2017, but if the county's amusement park has its way, it won't have to comply with the new regulations.

As first reported by the Washington Times, a member of the Prince George's County Council will soon introduce legislation that would exempt Six Flags from the law, allowing them to continue to pay seasonal workers $7.25 per hour.

Six Flags America, which is located in Upper Marlboro, is part of a chain that hires and retains more young, temporary employees than any other company in the United States, officials tell the Washington Times.

Derrick Davis, the District 6 councilman behind the bill, told the newspaper that the theme park's schedule creates a unique situation. Six Flags America is located in his district.

The county's new minimum wage regulations, which went into effect last December, offer an exemption for workers under 19 years old who work fewer than 20 hours per week.

The issue of raising the minimum wage has proved divisive in Prince George's County, prompting faceoffs between employers and local governments.

While supporters maintain it will lift families out of poverty, others worry about setting a bad precedent by providing a major employer such as Six Flags with a break.

"I believe that everybody who works should have the same right and privilege to earn," Upper Marlboro resident Armond Daniels said.

Since Six Flags is a seasonal employer, though, supporters say the exemption is intended to help breadwinners for families, not kids looking for extra cash.

"If it's a first time job, maybe they shouldn't do anything with the minimum wage," Prince George's County resident Jeff Schellim said.