Mayors, advocates gear up for minimum wage fight

The mayors of St. Louis and Kansas City are taking different approaches to the same goal of increasing the minimum wage for their constituents.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay made his way to the state Capitol on Monday to speak out against legislation that would block the city’s minimum wage increase, which the Missouri Supreme Court upheld last week.

Meanwhile, Kansas City Mayor Sly James came out against a minimum wage proposal in his city and predicted the only reliable way to raise the wage is through a statewide petition initiative.

St. Louis decided in 2015 to raise it minimum wage to $11 by 2018, but the city was sued by business groups who said the ordinance conflicted with state law.

The state’s high court sided with the city last week, but celebrations proved to be short-lived. Less than a week later, advocates and city lawmakers are testifying against proposals from state lawmakers that would nullify St. Louis’ increase and ban other cities from doing the same.

Slay joins other advocates, including some of the state’s labor unions, to denounce the Legislature’s involvement in city politics.

James, by contrast, said he supports a higher minimum wage than the state-set floor of $7.70 per hour. But he said any local attempt to boost Kansas City’s minimum wage will simply be undercut by a Republican-led state legislature that is already moving to pre-empt any local minimum wage ordinances.

James said he plans to introduce an alternate resolution Thursday that supports a statewide petition initiative for a state vote in 2018. If voters statewide approve that, James predicted, it would make it harder for the state legislature to overturn.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star

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