Missouri's minimum wage law takes effect, protest planned in STL

Missouri's minimum wage law takes effect, protest planned in STL
Posted at 2:27 PM, Aug 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-28 15:27:36-04

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- On the day that thousands of St. Louis workers get pay cuts due to a new state law, Mayor Lyda Krewson, faith leaders and others will gather in support of a higher wage and offer plans about what happens next.

A $10 minimum wage in St. Louis went into effect in May after a two-year court battle. Days later, the Republican-led Missouri Legislature passed a bill that requires a $7.70 per hour minimum wage statewide.

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens allowed the measure to become law without his signature.

The impact is felt in Kansas City, too. Kansas City voters on Aug. 8 approved a $10 minimum wage with incremental increases to $15 by 2022, a vote negated by the new state law.

Supporters of the higher wage in St. Louis plan an afternoon protest, during which the Democratic mayor is expected to announce next steps. No organized protests were planned for Monday in Kansas City.

Supporters of the new law say it will help, not hurt, low-wage workers.

Greitens declined to comment Monday but has said previously that the higher wage in St. Louis forces small businesses to either cut hours or cut jobs. He cited a University of Washington study suggesting Seattle's $15 minimum wage cost workers hours on the job, resulting in an average loss of $125 per month.

Another study by the University of California at Berkeley had a different result, finding that the Seattle wage hike boosted pay for restaurant workers without costing jobs.

In St. Louis, an estimated 35,000 workers received a pay raise after the court ruling, with a raise to $11 an hour planned in 2018.

A campaign was launched in July to pressure businesses to keep the $10 minimum wage. Organizers said more than 150 businesses signed an online petition agreeing to do so. But workers at some fast-food restaurants were told to expect pay reductions once the new law took effect.

The Kansas City Council on Aug. 17 adopted a resolution encouraging employers to voluntarily comply with the higher wage approved by voters. It wasn't clear how many were doing so.

At least two other states have recently passed so-called "pre-emption laws" knocking down higher wages established by local governments.

Alabama's law nullified a 2015 Birmingham ordinance that would have raised the city minimum wage to $10.10 by July 2017. Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad in March signed a law negating wage hikes in two counties and stopping a third before it could take effect. The statewide minimum wage in Alabama and Iowa is $7.25 per hour, the U.S. minimum.

In Missouri, signatures are being gathered for a November 2018 ballot measure to raise the statewide minimum wage to $8.60 per hour in 2019, with 85-cent raises each year after that until the wage gets to $12 an hour in 2023.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have minimum wage rates above the U.S. minimum, according to the Economic Policy Institute.