Minimum Wage

Demonstrators march to Missouri Capitol to call for a $15 and hour minimum wage
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Around 200 demonstrators were in Jefferson City Monday calling for Missouri to adopt a $15 an hour minimum wage and other reforms to help the state's low income and minority communities.

Most of them traveled by bus on Monday from Kansas City, and once they arrived marched into the State Capitol and staged a rally. One of the leaders was Rodney Williams, a Kansas City pastor who's also one of the so-called Medicaid 23 who was arrested two years ago for demonstrating in the Missouri Senate visitors gallery.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

Monday is the last day of the Board of Aldermen session that began back in April. Things start fresh again the very next day.

Aldermen introduced 324 bills in the 41 weeks they were in session. Ninety-two percent of them passed, most without fanfare or controversy. Some, however, rose to the level of national news. Here is a look back at the aldermanic session that was.

Cara Spencer
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On another edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Louis Alderman Cara Spencer to the program for the first time.

Spencer represents the city’s 20th Ward on the Board of Aldermen. The ward includes several south St. Louis neighborhoods, including Gravois Park, Marine Villa, Mount Pleasant and Dutchtown. And it takes in part of Cherokee Street, one of St. Louis’ most eclectic business districts.

From center: Sens. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, waits for a presser to start with Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay threw his support behind raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer issued a stern warning.

The Columbia Republican penned a letter to his colleagues that if St. Louis (and Kansas City) enacted minimum wage hikes, lawmakers should eliminate the cities’ earnings taxes. That’s the 1 percent income tax on anybody who lives, works or owns a business in either city.

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Professors Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer were startled to recently find a trend in American poverty that they hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s: the number of American households living on around $2, per person, per day has reached 1.5 million, including 3 million children.

Supporters of raising St. Louis' minimum wage listen to testimony Tuesday at St. Louis City Hall.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Low-wage workers in St. Louis will not be getting the raise they expected on Thursday.

Judge Steven Ohmer ruled Wednesday afternoon that a law boosting the city's minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018 violated Missouri's Constitution because it conflicted directly with state law. The first increase, to $8.25 an hour, was to take effect at midnight Wednesday.

The city's Civil Courts Building, where a challenge of St. Louis' minimum wage law was heard.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The fate of St. Louis’ minimum wage law is in the hands of a judge.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer heard arguments on Tuesday over a law raising the city’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018. A coalition of businesses and business groups are challenging the measure in court.

After roughly two hours of arguments, Ohmer promised to deliver a quick ruling on the lawsuit. He had previously promised to decide on the validity of the law by October 15, the day that the city’s minimum wage is expected to rise from $7.65 to $8.25 an hour. 

St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert chats with St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Nick Pistor before a judge ruled against a temporary restraining order for the city's minimum wage law.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When attorneys resume a legal fight this week over St. Louis’ minimum wage law, the atmosphere will be very different from when they first clashed in the courtroom.

St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert and omnipresent litigator Jane Dueker are set to resume a high-stakes legal battle on Tuesday morning. Dueker is representing businesses and business groups seeking to dismantle St. Louis’ law raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018. Calvert (along with private attorneys from Dowd Bennett) is defending the statute.

Alderman Lyda Krewson
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann welcome St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson to the show.

The Moberly native has represented the city’s 28th Ward since 1997. Her ward includes some of the city’s most popular attractions, such as Forest Park, the St. Louis Zoo, part of ‘The Loop’ and the Central West End business districts.

Antonia Banks and her son John Paul testify on Thursday at the Board of Aldermen's Ways and Means Committee. They were speaking in support of a bill exempting sheltered workshops from a mnimum wage hike.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen is closer to exempting sheltered workshops from the city’s new minimum wage law.

When the city raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018, it didn’t exempt sheltered workshops. Those are facilities that provide job opportunities to people with developmental disabilities – and often pay less than the minimum wage.

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh led a legal roundtable to talk about local and national legal issues pressing our region today. Uber and anti-trust law were a big focus of the hour, along with the legal implications of the Ferguson Commission’s recommendations, the possibility of minimum wage increases in Missouri, police use of force, the Kim Davis saga and more.

Listen here for the full rundown:

St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert chats with St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Nick Pistor before a judge ruled against a temporary restraining order for the city's minimum wage law.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis judge quashed an attempt to temporarily freeze a law raising the city’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018.

And the high-stakes legal battle over the measure is expected to resume next month.

Missouri Restaurant Association CEO Robert Bonney speaks out against Cohn's minimum wage proposal. Bonney says St. Louis' minimum wage push would hurt eateries that already operate on tight margins.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated after court hearing - St. Louis’ newly enacted minimum wage law is facing an expected legal challenge.

Several prominent business groups are party to a suit filed to strike down a law raising the city’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018. Among other things, the lawsuit contends the law violates several state statues and was improperly drafted. (Click here to read the lawsuit.)

Supporters of raising St. Louis' minimum wage listen to testimony Tuesday at St. Louis City Hall.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On Labor Day, we celebrate work by not working. How appropriate. Our attitudes about work are often contradictory, and current work-related debates raise puzzling questions.

Take the minimum wage. Recently, St. Louis decided to increase it; St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger reiterated why the suburbs would not, as Jason Rosenbaum reported.

St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger said his transition into his new office is going much more smoothly than last week.
File photo by Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Louis last week started the process to raise its minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018, some policymakers and activists hoped the move would spur St. Louis County to follow suit.

“It would be great if the county came along with us,” said St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. “I think that is one of the major issues with the bill. We need to have this on a much broader spectrum than just the city.”

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Aldermen completed a harrowing process to raise the city’s minimum wage – a decision that supporters say will help the city's low-income workers.

But few believe that Friday’s affirmative vote marks the last word in the minimum wage saga, especially if businesses or business groups pursue legal action to invalidate the newly enacted ordinance.

Aldermen President Lewis Reed during debate
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has given initial approval to raising the minimum wage in St. Louis to $11 an hour by 2018. The vote was 15-6.

The bill faces one more vote. Throughout the long debate, two factions formed: those who want to see a significant increase in base-line pay and those who fear that an increase will alienate businesses and drive them into St. Louis County or across the river to Illinois. Both sides say they want the best for low-wage workers.

Supporters of raising St. Louis' minimum wage listen to testimony Tuesday at St. Louis City Hall.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

With the clock ticking, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen was scheduled to tackle legislation on Tuesday morning that would raise the city’s minimum wage. 

This bill stokes passion on both sides of the issue, and is likely being monitored around the region and across the state.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, wants to raise the county's minimum wage to $15 an hour.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council has sided with County Executive Steve Stenger by firmly killing off a proposal to increase the county’s minimum wage to $15 within five years.

The bill’s sponsor, Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, failed to get a “second’’ from any of her four colleagues when she attempted to bring up the measure for discussion.  As a result, the bill died.

Supporters of raising St. Louis' minimum wage listen to testimony Tuesday at St. Louis City Hall.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A decade after their last successful effort, Missouri backers of a higher minimum wage believe that 2016 may finally be their year for a successful replay.

“The ground is shifting really quickly in this country around the minimum wage,’’ said Lara Granich, Missouri director for the St. Louis-based group called Jobs With Justice. “The momentum is really growing, month by month.”

St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, wants to raise the county's minimum wage to $15 an hour.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Weeks after St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger appeared to shut the door on a minimum wage increase, his chief rival on the county council is angling to bring the issue back into the forefront.

Councilwoman Hazel Erby said in a press release on Monday that she has requested legislation increasing the minimum wage in St. Louis County. The University City Democrat said that she wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

After the push for increasing minimum wage in St. Louis resumed, two of the city’s top Democratic leaders

Aldermanic President Lewis Reed in a letter released to the media rejected the latest proposal on minimum wage, stating that it “falls way short of providing relief to working families” while at the same time “institutes new system of inequalities, disincentives for students, and loopholes.”

City attorney Winston Calvert reisgned Nov. 18 2015
File photo Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Trying to best describe the legal status of local minimum wage increases is like wrapping your arms around an eel.

That’s because discussions around St. Louis and Kansas City minimum wage hikes have proceeded under the cloud of a now-vetoed bill, known as HB 722, that would have banned local minimum wage increases. And legal arguments around local wage hikes get decidedly slippery depending on whether that bill goes into effect or dies on the vine.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

A measure that would boost the minimum wage in the city of St. Louis for most workers got back on track Friday, following a contentious Board of Aldermen debate that lasted nearly an hour.

The bill appeared dead two weeks ago when the chairman of the Ways and Means committee, Alderman Joe Vaccaro, abruptly canceled all future meetings. He told reporters at the time he saw no way for anyone to achieve a "reasonable compromise" before aldermen went on summer break.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay wants to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. But the big could run into legal problems if Gov. Jay Nixon doesn't sign a bill authorizing increases before August 28.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Francis Slay is throwing his support behind a compromise proposal to raise the city’s minimum wage.

The measure unveiled Thursday is an effort to break a political logjam and pass the legislation in what appears to be a narrow window of time

Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Steve Stenger
Jason Rosenbaum and Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Since St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger took office earlier this year, there have been questions about his relationship with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

They’re not just errant queries: Slay supported then-St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley over Stenger in last year’s Democratic primary — as did some of the  mayor's political organization. But both men say they’re burying the hatchet — and, at least, are using telephones to speak with each other.

Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward, plunged the future of a minimum wage bill into doubt after cancelling committee hearings on the issue.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ ambitious push to raise the minimum wage may be dead after the alderman in charge of the committee examining the bill -- Alderman Joe Vaccaro -- canceled hearings.

It’s a move that caught supporters of the bill off guard and incensed staffers of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. And with a state deadline potentially looming, it may have brought a dramatic end to deliberations over the issue.

Alderman Shane Cohn, D-25th Ward, confers with Alderman Beth Murphy, D-13th Ward, on Tuesday. Cohn will present a revised version of his minimum wage bill on Wednesday.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis Board of Aldermen committee held off on votes on legislation raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

While that proposal could get a vote from the Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee next week, it may face a tough time receiving approval from that body.

Steve Stenger
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

It has been six months since St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger took office after winning a close race against Rick Stream.

Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward, said he doubts that a $15 an hour minimum wage can pass out of the Ways and Means Committee.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

When the St. Louis County executive put the kibosh on the county raising the minimum wage, it may have complicated St. Louis’ already challenging legislative effort.

That’s partly the view of Alderman Joe Vaccaro, the 23rd Ward Democrat who is now chairing a committee examining legislation raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. He said Steve Stenger’s comments took him by surprise – and added a layer of complexity to an issue that could reach a critical turning point this week.

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