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Oddly Correct sees positive changes while paying over minimum wage

KC coffee shop owner says 'benefits far outweigh' burdens
Co-owner of Oddly Correct, Mike Schroeder
Posted at 5:26 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 18:26:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Schroeder loves a black cup of coffee in the morning, but he may love his employees more.

The owner of Oddly Correct, a coffee shop on Troost Avenue, pays his employees $19 an hour. That's well above the minimum wage in Missouri.

"The people who are here are the ones that are going to make things happen," Schroeder said. "So if they're not feeling stable or invested, the business isn't gonna go anywhere."

Mike Schroeder, co-owner of Oddly Correct

Schroeder actively supports the initiative in Missouri to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2026 and provide paid sick leave.

Members of Missouri Jobs for Justice recently submitted over 200,000 signatures to ensure the question is placed on the November ballot.

"Creating an environment where our employees know that they're just not a resource to us, that we view them as human beings who have needs beyond doing their job," Schroeder said.

Since this decision, Schroeder has witnessed positive outcomes for his shop.

"We weren't having to spend as much time and energy finding new employees, we weren't having to spend as much time training people," he said. "There’s plenty of great coffee in Kansas City, right? But we had new customers coming to us because they want to support a business that cares about the people that work there."

However, not all business owners share Schroeder's perspective. Some argue raising wages creates a burden.

"I just have to say, from experience, if you can get over that in your mind, the benefits far outweigh that," he said.

Bill Thompson, a minimum wage worker who helped collect signatures for the initiative, understands firsthand the importance of fair wages.

"The most thing that I got was, well, why don't you get a better job?" he said. "Sometimes it's a choosing over whether we pay a bill or whether we have food on the table."

Bill Thompson, minimum wage worker and member of Stand Up KC, Missouri Workers' Center

For Thompson, the fight for fair wages extends beyond this year's ballot.

"It's always gonna be a continual fight," he said.

Schroeder echoed this sentiment.

"The idea of paying people a wage that they can support themselves on just felt like, if we can't do that, then we shouldn't be open," he said.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is now in charge of verifying the signatures. His team said there won't be a decision until August.