As activists around the nation fight to push the minimum wage to $15 per hour, workers in St. Louis are working to prevent a cut in the minimum wage.
Earlier this year, the Democrat-led city set the minimum wage to $10 an hour, with an increase to $11 on January 1, 2018. In an attempt to undercut the change—which went into effect on May 5, the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly approved a bill that would prevent local jurisdictions from setting wage floors that exceed the state’s minimum wage of $7.70. Starting August 28, St. Louis employers can legally revert to paying employees $7.70.
On Friday (July 14), Fight for $15 advocates launched the Save the Raise campaign to educate employers and consumers on the importance of a living wage, and encourage business to keep wages at $10 for the 35,000 who received a raise in May. St. Louis’ population is 53.2 percent people of color.
“The minimum wage went up because workers hit the streets and went on strike for $15 an hour and union rights, and we won’t go backwards,” Bettie Douglas, a local Fight for $15 organizer and McDonald’s worker, said in an emailed statement. “This raise is helping us put food on the table, gas in our cars and keep the lights on. Now companies like McDonald’s have a choice to make. They can either snatch back our raise and take food out of the mouths of children, or they can do the right thing by honoring the St. Louis wage increase and paying us at least $10 an hour.”
State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, whose district includes St. Louis, says she will continue to fight for a higher wage. “Right now, Missouri taxpayers shell out $2.4 billion per year in public assistance to make up for the fact that big companies like McDonald’s and Walmart don’t pay their workers enough to survive,” she said in the same statement. “Governor [Eric] Greitens and Republican legislators in Jefferson City may be content to let taxpayers subsidize poverty [to] pay for big business, but St. Louis is choosing a different path. One way or another, we are going to save this raise.”
Visit SaveTheRaise.org for more information on the campaign.