Fast-food workers in St. Louis, Kansas City protest to Save the Raise

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COOKS AND CASHIERS rallied outside the McDonald’s at 1420 North Hampton Ave. recently to protest a law passed by the Republican-led Missouri Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Eric Greitens that will roll back local minimum wage increases in St. Louis and Kansas City on Aug. 28. – Labor Tribune photo

Demand large companies like McDonald’s reject local minimum wage rollbacks

By TIM ROWDEN

Editor

Cooks and cashiers in St. Louis and Kansas City rallied outside local McDonald’s restaurants recently to protest a law passed by the Republican-led Missouri Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Eric Greitens that will roll back local minimum wage increases in both cities on Aug. 28.

Fast-food workers blasted GOP lawmakers in Jefferson City for stealing their wages and demanded that large employers like McDonald’s respect the will of voters and honor local minimum wage increases passed in both cities even after the preemption law takes effect.

“We fought hard to get this raise and take us in the right direction of getting $15 and union rights, and we’re not stopping now,” said Frances Holmes, 54, at a rally outside the McDonald’s at 1420 North Hampton Ave. in St. Louis. “We are going to continue to fight until we win.”

Holmes, a member of Show Me $15, the St. Louis area branch of the Fight for $15 movement, works at a McDonald’s in Webster Groves and is paid $9 an hour.

“I am out here fighting with my fellow $15 fighters,” Holmes said. “We are all in this together.”

The protests come just a week after St. Louis workers announced that more than 100 local businesses have pledged to continue honoring the existing $10 an hour minimum wage approved in the city, despite the state preemption law.

A day after the announcement, Kansas City voters approved by a 2-1 margin a local ballot initiative that will raise that city’s minimum wage to $10 an hour on Aug. 24 and $15 an hour by 2022.

ST. LOUIS MINIMUM WAGE FIGHT

In St. Louis, workers finally won a $10 an hour wage in May, two years after the city had passed a minimum wage ordinance. The increase was held up for two years by lawsuits from business lobbyists, depriving workers of nearly $35 million in pay, according to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project.

Workers prevailed at the state Supreme Court, lifting pay for 30,000 St. Louis workers, but weeks later GOP state lawmakers passed a bill barring cities from setting their own minimum wages, effectively lowering the wage floor back down to $7.70 an hour in both St. Louis and Kansas.

FIGHTING TO ‘SAVE THE RAISE’

On July 14, a coalition of low-wage workers, clergy, elected officials, small businesses and community leaders launched the “Save the Raise” campaign, urging St. Louis employers to reject the minimum wage cut and continue honoring the city’s current $10 an hour wage floor.

“If mom and pop shops across St. Louis can save the raise for workers, why is a multi-billion-dollar company like McDonald’s taking money out of my pocket and food out of my children’s mouths?” said St. Louis McDonald’s cashier Bettie Douglas, who has been told her current $10 an hour wage will be cut back to $7.90 when the preemption law goes into effect. “This is proof that the only thing stopping fast-food companies from paying us a decent wage is their own greed.”

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