For thousands of hardworking people in St. Louis, working in restaurant kitchens, retail stores and nursing homes or toiling out in the 90-plus degree heat, their labor earns far less today than it did yesterday.
Today, a new Missouri law takes effect that bars localities from enacting minimum wages any higher than the state minimum wage. The impact is most severe in St. Louis, where citizens overwhelmingly voted to raise the wage back in 2015. There, low-wage workers lost out on millions in unpaid wages while corporate interests fought the higher wage in the court system, until this spring when the Missouri Supreme Court sided with the city in a two-year legal battle, raising wages in St. Louis to $10 an hour. Just days after the Supreme Court ruling, in the last hours of Missouri’s legislative session, extremists in Missouri’s Republican-led legislature passed a law barring municipalities from raising the minimum wage above the state floor of $7.70 an hour. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) declined to veto the bill, cruelly allowing it to become law.
The law is drawing protests in St. Louis and in Kansas City, where a recent vote approving a higher minimum wage essentially is nullified without ever really taking effect. Working Missourians have been collecting the signatures to repeal yet another wage-lowering law, "right to work," signed by Greitens in February. This Labor Day, working people are collecting additional signatures to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot and working to educate the public about the attacks on our wages and dignity.