As many cities across the U.S. increased the minimum wage this year, one city has to lower the current $10 minimum wage back down to its original $7.70 per hour. The 23 percent drop will go into effect August 28 after Missouri’s governor enacted a bill that prohibits cities from setting a higher minimum wage than what the state mandates.
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St. Louis, which is predominantly Democratic, has been fighting an uphill battle against the state’s Republican governor Eric Greitens. In 2015, during a fight for a higher minimum wage, St. Louis passed a local ordinance that raised the minimum wage to $10.
They even had plans of increasing it to $11/hour in January 2018 but found themselves wrapped up in a legal battle within the Missouri Supreme Court. While the city eventually won the right to raise the wage to $11, Gov. Greitens’ bill effectively overrides the city’s plan.
Greitens has been against raising the minimum wage since he took office in January 2017. He has argued that raising the minimum wage will “kill jobs, and despite what you hear from liberals, it will take money out of people’s pockets.”
He also has statistical evidence to further substantiate his case. According to a study conducted in Seattle, University of Washington researchers found that after the minimum wage was hiked up to $15, people made on average $125 less than they would have at the lower wage.
The reason? Businesses started scheduling their workers for less hours to combat the higher hourly wage. The Mayor of St. Louis, Lyda Krewson, called Greitens’ refusal to allow a higher minimum wage “a setback for working families.”
Greitens had publicly stated that local politicians had “dragged their feet for months” and couldn’t come up with an agreeable wage for the state. The General Assembly’s vote to prohibit cities from overriding the state minimum wage effectively takes control away from cities and gives it back to the state.
Those dismayed by Greitens’ decision took to social media. A group page that supports a $15 minimum wage wrote: “Hurting people who have it the hardest isn’t just bad governing, it’s pathological.”
One woman, Cynthia Sanders, who works as a janitor, wrote in the St. Louis Post that “lowering the minimum wage would be unimaginably cruel.”
While many may be opposed to the governor’s decision, it’s clear that there is a reason why he is against it. The state’s federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in over 10 years, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to be changing any time in the near future.