Minimum Wage | St. Louis Public Radio

Minimum Wage

Tierra White holds her two-year old daughter, Taylor, during a Save the Raise rally outside Southwest Diner on Friday. The diner's owner has announced it will continue to pay workers $10 an hour. (July 14, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:45 p.m. July 14 with details about push to keep St. Louis wages the same — When it became clear the Republican-controlled state legislature wouldn’t be raising the minimum wage above $7.70 an hour, leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City took matters into their own hands.

But their wage increases will be a thing of the past come Aug. 28, as Gov. Eric Greitens will let go into effect — but not sign — a bill requires all cities to stay at the statewide minimum. It prevents Kansas City from implementing its $8.50 an hour wage in September, and will knock out St. Louis’ recent shift to $10 an hour.

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

If it were up to Cynthia Sanders, St. Louis would sue to stop a state bill from voiding the city’s minimum wage increase. Sanders, a janitor who saw her pay go from $8.50 an hour to $10 an hour earlier this year, said it’s not right for workers like her to get a raise “and then just take it back.”

It isn’t clear whether there will be a lawsuit, but if so, Mayor Lyda Krewson won’t be the one behind it. The Democrat told St. Louis Public Radio in a statement that while she strongly supports the city law bringing the minimum wage up to $11 an hour by 2018, the legislature has the right to overturn it.

State Rep. Bruce Franks takes part in a recording of Politically Speaking at Yaquis on Cherokee.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies shook things up, recording the show with state Rep. Bruce Franks on Wednesday in front of a live audience at Yaquis on Cherokee in St. Louis.

Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, was elected to the Missouri House last year to represent the 78th District, which stretches from Carr Square to Dutchtown in the eastern part of the city.

Members of the Missouri State Senate work through the final day of the General Assembly's legislative sessions.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s workers will bear the brunt of sweeping policy changes that were approved during the 2017 session.

With Republicans firmly in control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature, they took the opportunity to back long-awaited policy proposals, including making it harder for employees to sue for discrimination and blunting the power of labor unions.

House Democrats, including Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., raise their hands to speak about the $10-an-hour minimum wage in St. Louis.
File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Forty-five bills to Gov. Eric Greitens later, the Missouri General Assembly adjourned Friday having dealt with some high-priority items like right to work, banning cities from raising their minimum wage, complying with a federal ID mandate and making it harder to sue for workplace discrimination.

But other sought-after bills fell by the wayside, including one that would have allowed Missouri to shed its status as the last state in the U.S. without a prescription drug monitoring program and another getting rid of lobbyist gifts to officeholders — something Greitens campaigned on.

People mill about the Missouri Capitol building on Wed., May 10, 2017.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House and Senate traded a few bills Wednesday, including an amended one that would bring more specificity to a state ban on so-called "sanctuary cities." But nothing was sent to Gov. Eric Greitens all day.

Here’s a deeper look at what happened in the Capitol:

St. Louis' Civil Courthouse - May 2017
Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

Businesses in St. Louis will have to pay their employees at least $10 an hour starting Friday, rather than the state's minimum of $7.70.

A circuit court judge lifted an injunction against a city ordinance on Thursday, a little over a week after the Missouri Supreme Court declined to reconsider its February ruling upholding the law

Members of labor unions watch speakers at a rally last year in St. Charles.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

International Workers’ Day, often marked by protests, marches and celebrations by organized labor, may be muted in Missouri this year due to restrictions passed by the state legislature.

“We’ve definitely taken a few hits this year, there’s no doubt,” said Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council AFL-CIO.

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 26 with city of St. Louis' statement and state legislation status:

 

The city of St. Louis expects to increase its minimum wage within the next few days. It is waiting for an injunction to be lifted now that the Missouri Supreme Court has decided not to reconsider an earlier ruling that allowed the city to establish a higher rate that the state of Missouri. In a statement released Wednesday, Mayor Lyda Krewson said the decision is a "win for our city's working families."

Fast food workers take part in a protest organized by Show Me $15 outside a McDonald's on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis on March 15, 2017. They want the city's $10 minimum wage increase to be enforced immediately.
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The business organizations that took St. Louis' law to raise the minimum wage to the Missouri Supreme Court filed a motion Wednesday for it to be reheard.

It was the last day they could challenge last month's ruling that upheld the city's law.

Rep. Jean Evans
Tim Bommel I House Communications

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jenny Simeone welcome state Rep. Jean Evans to the program.

The Manchester Republican is serving her first term in the Missouri House. She represents the 99th state House District, which takes in Manchester, Valley Park and Twin Oaks.

Missouri House members debate legislation to undo St. Louis' minimum wage law on March 9, 2017.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court is OK with St. Louis raising its minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2018. Missouri lawmakers are a different story.

The House passed combined House bills 1194/1193 that would block St. Louis, Kansas City and other cities from boosting the minimum wage above the state’s, which is currently $7.70 an hour. That wage is adjusted for inflation every Jan. 1.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay signs an increase in the St. Louis minimum wage into law on Aug. 28, 2015.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:50 p.m. Feb. 28 — St. Louis' minimum wage can go up to $11 by 2018, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Its unanimous opinion ruled that a 2015 ordinance does not conflict with the state’s minimum wage of $7.65 an hour.

Protesters gathered outside a downtown St. Louis Hardees on Thursday in opposition to Donald Trump's selection for Labor Secretary
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, is getting criticism on his home turf.

The St. Louis native is CEO of the company that owns Hardees and Carl’s Junior, CKE Restaurants.

About 50 protesters gathered outside Hardees headquarters in downtown St. Louis on Thursday, questioning whether the fast food CEO would really represent workers’ interests. They then walked a couple of blocks to stand in front of a Hardees restaurant.

Nearly 100 people demonstrated outside the Missouri Supreme Court shortly after two cases were argued seeking higher minimum wages in St. Louis and Kansas City.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing two cases, one from St. Louis and the other from Kansas City, seeking to allow higher minimum wages in each place.

At issue is a law enacted during last year's veto session that bars cities from enacting a minimum wage that's higher than that set by the federal or state government. House Bill 722 was passed in response to both cities seeking higher minimum wages, along with Columbia's efforts to ban plastic grocery bags.

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.
File photo | Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

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
File photo | 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.
File photo | 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.”

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