Member activists spent this spring fighting to raise the minimum wage to $8.25/hour in Missouri and working to make sure reforms of the predatory payday lender industry are passed. SEIU Healthcare MO and the Missouri Home Care Union members helped collect over 350,000 signatures that were delivered to the Secretary of State on May 6th. Upon certification of these signatures, Missouri voters will be allowed to decide these two critical issues at the ballot box in November.
Home care attendant Valerie Gordon spent the last several months tirelessly gathering signatures and has had firsthand experience as a minimum wage worker in Missouri. Below is Valerie’s testimony from the day the signatures were submitted.
“I have spent the last several months gathering signatures in support of a raise to our state’s minimum wage – I went to churches, to parades, to my friends, neighbors, and co-workers; everyday Missourians who know firsthand why our state needs a raise. I have been married to these petitions and let’s just say I’m ready for a divorce – it’s time to turn them in so the voters of our state can decide on this issue at the ballot box next November.
Right now a minimum wage worker in Missouri earns barely $15,000 a year working full-time and that’s not enough money to live on when the cost of everything else continues to increase. Almost half a million Missouri families would get a raise through this initiative, which would bolster our state’s economy and put working people first.
I have been one of Missouri’s minimum wage workers for a long time and I can attest to the struggles that come with increasing cost of living and stagnant wages. In 2003 I made $6.65 an hour and did not get a raise until our federal minimum wage laws increased to $7.25 in 2009. Since then I have only had a thirteen cent increase and I face difficult decisions everyday about which bills to pay. When I get sick I have to decide whether I can spare the $35 to see a doctor at the clinic on top of the cost of gas it would take me to get there. If I’m too sick to go to work and cannot get the care I need, my client suffers and I don’t get paid at all.
I’ve been a home care attendant for 20 years and I’m still living in poverty. Missouri workers need a raise and I’m proud to be standing here today when we take the first step in direction of accomplishing this goal.”