St. Louis nursing home worker Robert Brown recently traveled to Jefferson City to testify against the Missouri General Assembly’s efforts to diminish local control and eliminate the St. Louis minimum wage increase. Read his moving testimony below.
My name is Robert Brown and I have been a Housekeeper in a St. Louis nursing home for ten years now. I work hard to ensure that our residents have a safe and clean environment to live in, and I do it with a smile on my face day in and day out.
Some days it is hard to keep that smile on my face though. After ten years of service, I earn only $9/hour. I still cannot afford to rent an apartment, so I have rented a room for several years in a boarding house. I constantly have to make difficult decisions because of the low wage that I earn – do I buy groceries or do I put gas in my car so I can get to work? There are no easy answers and there are tens of thousands of workers in Missouri that are in the same position as me.
When news broke that the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the minimum wage increase in St. Louis, I was overwhelmed with hope and took a small sigh of relief in knowing that soon I would earn $10/hour and that it would ease the burden a little. And then to think that starting in 2018 I would earn $11/hour – these stood to be the two largest raises that I ever received in my life.
No one is going to get rich off of these increases, and it’s certainly not going to solve all of the problems that low wage workers like me face – but, that extra dollar an hour will be money that I will invest right back into our local economy. It will mean I can buy food and gas, not food or gas. It will mean that I can afford the trip to Reavis Barracks Cemetery to visit my mother’s grave. Maybe I can even start to save a little bit here and there so when life happens – things like an unexpected vehicle repair or if my microwave breaks – it won’t be a catastrophe for me financially like it is now.
I’m here today to say to our state lawmakers, please don’t pull the rug out from under workers like me. Instead of talking about ways to undercut local initiatives to raise the minimum wage, we should be talking about a statewide minimum wage increase to lift up all Missourians.
People who get up and go to work each day shouldn’t have to struggle so hard to survive, and this minimum wage increase will go a long way for those of us in St. Louis. Please do the right thing for Missouri workers and stop efforts to eliminate the St. Louis minimum wage increase. Thank you for your time and for hearing my testimony on this important issue.