In yet another example of red state preemption laws preventing measures adopted by blue-leaning city governments, Missouri state law will override a St. Louis minimum wage increase later this month. Over 100 St. Louis businesses, however, have vowed to continue paying workers at least $10 an hour, rather than the state standard of $7.70, the St. Louis Port-Dispatch reports.
Workers won the rate after a two-year fight against business groups. It took effect in May, and was set to rise again on January 1, 2018, to $11 an hour. But this year, Missouri’s GOP-led legislature pushed for a law banning cities from setting their own minimum wages. Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, who switched parties from Democrat to Republican during his gubernatorial run, didn’t sign the bill, but opted not to veto it, allowing it to become law without his signature.
A “Save the Raise” campaign asking local employers to disregard the change kicked off in response, led by small business owners, low-wage workers and city aldermen.
“The city of St. Louis enacted the minimum wage ordinance in 2015 to lift up working families, bolster the local economy, and foster a stronger and safer community. Despite years of obstruction by corporate lobbyists and this newest attack on fair pay by Republican politicians in Jefferson City, that vision is still within reach,” said 16 members of the St. Louis Board of Alderman, including the board’s president, Lewis Reed, in a joint statement. “All employers still have the power to do the right thing and continue to pay the fair wage.”
As Next City has previously covered, it’s difficult to say from a macro level what the impact of minimum wage increases will be. Several early studies have provided some feedback, but they haven’t been peer-reviewed, and have provided mixed and inconclusive results.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.