On August 8, dozens of signature-gathering volunteers and working people with the Raise Up Missouri Coalition, joined by Representative Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City), kicked off a major grassroots campaign to raise Missouri’s minimum wage that would impact hundreds of thousands of the state’s residents. Since politicians have prohibited municipalities like Kansas City and St. Louis from raising the minimum wage, working people are taking their efforts statewide so that every working family in Missouri will have an easier time putting food on the table.
The statewide initiative, which would appear on the November 2018 ballot, would raise the minimum wage to $8.60 in 2019 and rise 85 cents each year after that, capping at $12 in 2023. The wage would then continue to rise with the cost of living. More than 500,000, or 1 in 5 working Missourians, will see their wages rise by the time the raise is fully implemented, and nearly a million, or 1 in 3 working Missourians, will see a benefit from spillover effects. While the cost of living keeps going up, wages have not kept pace. Raising the minimum wage for working families offers them the opportunity to take home more on their paychecks to spend in their communities, strengthening the state’s economy for everyone.
SEIU Healthcare Missouri member Cherie Brown, a CNA at Highland Nursing Home in Kansas City, spoke out passionately at the event:
I’m so happy to be here today to speak about an issue that is so important to me and tens of thousands of fellow healthcare workers across Missouri. That issue is raising our state minimum wage!
Here in Kansas City, workers have been fighting to raise the wage for years. We want to do more for our children and we want the respect that our work deserves.
I’ve been at my nursing home for 6 years now and it has been a constant struggle to support my family. Cost of living has gone up – rent, utilities, food, gas, healthcare, you name it – these necessities cost more than they used to.
And yet, here in Missouri, workers haven’t seen increases to the minimum wage to keep up with the rising costs of the basic things we need. That’s why I support raising the state minimum wage to $12/hour.
The governor has promised a lot of things to workers, one of them being more good jobs. But the governor signed a pre-emption law that takes away the voice of voters in cities across the state. That’s why it’s critical that we put this statewide minimum wage increase on the ballot for voters to decide themselves.
This initiative will give a raise to nearly half a million workers and will have a positive impact on 1 million. I’m one of those workers who will be positively impacted. It took me six years, but I finally earn $12.30/hour. I know that if we can win this increase and raise the floor, it will help raise the ceiling for those of us already earning $12/hour. By putting more money in the pockets of low wage workers, we can jumpstart our economy and lift families out of poverty.
$12/hour won’t solve all of our problems and no one will get rich off of this increase, but it will mean more food on the table, bills paid on time, and a brighter future for hundreds of thousands of Missouri families.
Our fight for $15 and union rights for all workers will continue, and this campaign is a huge step forward toward that goal. I know and believe in my heart we will win – when working people stick together we can do amazing things. I look forward to putting this issue on the ballot for voters and then celebrating its passage in 2018!