Minimum Wage

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.

Supporters of a city minimum wage hike sit through a hearing of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Ways and Means Committee.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ efforts to raise the minimum wage of $7.65 have sparked a host of questions. One of the biggest is whether St. Louis County would follow suit. It's a pressing concern because some businesses have said they would move to the county if the city approves Alderman Shane Cohn's bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has now provided a definitive answer to that question: No.

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

St. Louis aldermen heard from proponents — and a few critics — of a bid to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour from its current $7.65.

The Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee  considered Alderman Shane Cohn’s bill, which would gradually raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The bill would exempt businesses with 15 or fewer employees and companies with less than $500,000 of gross sales every year. 

The committee didn’t vote on Cohn’s bill but is expected to hear more testimony on the measure in the next few weeks.

Fast food workers prepare to march around a McDonalds restaurant, taking part in a massive one day fast food industry strike demanding higher wages in St. Louis on December 5, 2013.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Allan Katz has a pretty good idea of what St. Louisans should expect when the debate over raising the minimum wage begins in earnest.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
Alex Heuer I St. Louis Public Radio

There has been much discussion about ways to improve safety in St. Louis. As of June 10, St. Louis police have recorded nearly 80 homicides in the city, close to half of the total number of homicides for the entire year of 2014. Police department statistics show that just 24 of them are considered closed, meaning an arrest has been made.

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

St. Louis’ political leadership will make a quick attempt to raise the city’s minimum wage, a public policy initiative they contend is economically and morally just.

But whether the city possesses the authority to raise its minimum wage is something of a moving target – and could depend on whether a bill that many Democrats despise is enacted into law.

Workers demonstrate in support of a higher minimum wage.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri's minimum wage could rise to $9 an hour, and rise by an additional dollar an hour per year, under a proposed constitutional amendment.

Three different versions of the proposal have been approved for circulation as petition initiatives, one of which would gradually raise Missouri's minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2023.  The second version would gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, while the third version would raise it to $11 by the year 2019.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy |

With a possible state ban looming, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is calling for the city to act swiftly and phase in a minimum wage mandate of $15 an hour over the next four years.

A bill is expected to be formally introduced Friday to the Board of Aldermen.  Meanwhile, the Missouri secretary of state's office has OKed three initiative petition proposals for circulation that call for hikes in the state's minimum wage.

plastic bags
Donna Korando | St. Louis Public Radio

Cities would be unable to ban the use of plastic bags under a bill passed by the Missouri Legislature on Wednesday. The bill, House Bill 722, also bans local municipalities from enacting ordinances that would require businesses to provide employee benefits that "exceed the requirements of federal or state laws, rules or regulaions."

Eight members of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus formed the town hall panel Saturday, April 18, 2015. The only female caucus member present for most of the meeting was Rep. Kayla May, who moderated.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Job opportunity and municipal reform took center stage Saturday during a town hall discussion held by the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus. About 35 people attended the two hour meeting at Greater St. Mark Church in north St. Louis County, many submitting written questions that the eight panelists took turns answering.

Ray Howze | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

Salaries for Missouri state employees rank near the bottom of the nation. To change that, some state legislators on Thursday called for making a raise a priority in coming years.

Joined by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and state Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said they want a five-year plan to raise those salaries. They did not outline a specific plan Thursday, but said they hoped to get the discussion started.

Workers demonstrate in support of a higher minimum wage.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri’s minimum wage will go up 15 cents as of New Year’s Day.

The increase from the current $7.50 to $7.65 is the result of a 2006 ballot referendum tying the state’s minimum wage to the Midwest Consumer Price Index. It’s the second 15 cent increase in as many years.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin knows firsthand the difficulty in getting a minimum wage increase passed through a legislative body. 

The Illinois Democrat was unsuccessful in getting the U.S. Senate to increase the federal minimum wage this year. Even if Senate Republicans hadn’t filibustered that effort, it would likely have gone nowhere in the GOP-controlled House.

Jess Jiang/St. Louis Public Radio

After the city of Seattle voted to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour earlier this month, the discussion over the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage continues to heat up. In Missouri, the minimum wage is $7.50 an hour, 25 cents higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Most can agree there will be winners and losers if a wage increase happens in Missouri, but who the losers would be and the overall effect on the economy still remain up for debate.

Lindenwood University economist Howard Wall is against raising the minimum wage.

Striking fast food workers in south St. Louis, MO.
Jess Jiang / St. Louis Public Radio

Fast food workers around the globe and in St. Louis went on strike Thursday. Workers, wearing black T-shirts that say "Show Me $15," rallied in front of a Wendy's in south St. Louis. The workers are asking for $15 an hour, about double what many workers currently receive. 

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Chris Sommers is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to the minimum wage. 

Sommers is the owner of six Pi Pizzerias restaurants and Gringo in the Central West End. Instead of waiting for Congress or the Missouri General Assembly to act, he’s heeding President Barack Obama’s call for business owners to voluntarily raise the minimum wage his employees.

Starting on April 1, everybody who works at one of Sommers’ restaurants will make at least $10.10 an hour. It’s a move Sommers said will help entry-level workers make a decent living.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Raising the minimum wage would be a big help for people like Shnette Hooker, an employee at a McDonald’s in Spanish Lake. Hooker said, it would allow people “to save a little money,” “take care of their kids” and “get off the assistance that everybody is on.” 

But more than just that, Hooker said boosting the minimum wage is a matter of fairness.

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson Cowie is a professor in Cornell University’s School of Labor and Industrial Relations teaching courses in labor relations, law and history.  His most recent book, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class served as inspiration for Rebecca Gilman’s play, “Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976” which is now playing at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.  While Cowie was in St.


Income inequality in the United States is a hot-button political issue in this mid-term election year. Advocates for substantial increases in the minimum wage, for instance, believe that imposing higher wages on employers will reduce poverty and lessen income inequality. The evidence just does not justify this claim. Workers who remain employed after the increase are made better off on the backs of those workers who face reduced hours or unemployment following government-mandated wage hikes.

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

President Barack Obama sent a message during his State of the Union address to every mayor, governor and state legislator who want to increase the minimum wage: Don't wait on Congress, Americans will support more local government initiatives.

Ragesoss | Wikipedia

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. The dictionary defines it as “that department of philosophy which investigates critically the nature, grounds, limits, and criteria, or validity, of human knowledge; Theory of cognition.” Woody Allen once called it the intellectual discipline that asks the question, “can we know what we know and if not, how do we know that?”

Workers demonstrate in support of a higher minimum wage.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

A push is going on to enact a $15-an-hour minimum wage. While some increase may be justified, that would make it more than a safety net.

 The Churchillian observation raises an interesting question: why should the queen concern herself with the minimum wage? After all, she’s always been rather well compensated for her labors, whatever those may be. 

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

 About 100 fast food workers and their supporters braved sleet squalls Thursday morning to join a nationwide protest seeking a boost in the federal minimum wage.

"I'm reminded of what happened during the Civil Rights movement," Ronald Bobo, the pastor at Westside Missionary Baptist Church, told the crowd as they gathered outside the Jack in the Box at 4111 Lindell Blvd.  It wasn't the old people who made the difference. It was the young people. You can make a difference. Don't give up, don't give in, don't be intimidated."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Proponents of boosting wages for fast-food workers and other minimum-wage workers held a public hearing Monday at St. Louis City Hall to publicize a study showing how many fast-food workers rely on public assistance.

The event organized by Jobs with Justice’s Workers’ Rights Board featured employees  saying how wages at fast-food restaurants aren’t high enough to stay off of public assistance -- such as Medicaid or food stamps.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: While fast food workers continue their push for a $15 hourly wage, polls find that a majority of Americans would support an increase of some type in the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Is $15 an hour to flip burgers or toss pizzas a realistic demand? When was the last time the federal minimum wage -- $7.25 per hour -- was adjusted? Who are America's minimum-wage workers? What is a living wage?

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis fast food workers were on the streets today for a second round of protests to raise wages and form a union.

Supporters carried signs and chanted both in and outside of McDonald’s on South Broadway and encouraged employees to walk out and join them in the strike. Reverend Martin Rafanan says that fast food workers and participants are more prepared on this second go around.

Fast-food workers demonstrate for higher wages as part of a national effort.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:Just as she did in May, Shermale Humphrey was on the picket line at noon Monday to protest the low wages and few benefits that she and others receive as they flip hamburgers and serve customers at the region's fast-food restaurants.

Rasheen Aldridge speaks at a California rally.
Sean Soendker Nicholson | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Seven weeks after the local protests by fast-food workers in early May, activists reaffirm their belief that the two-day pickets did more than highlight the fight over restaurant workers’ low wages.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Because of flight delays, acting U.S. Labor Secretary Seth Harris had to cancel his trip to St. Louis and Kansas City last week to promote President Barack Obama’s support for increasing the federal minimum wage.