35,000 St. Louis workers will get a 23% wage cut Aug. 28
Jefferson City – While there was still time before the July 15 deadline for Governor Eric Greitens to do the right thing and veto a repeal of St. Louis’ and Kansas City’s minimum wage increases, House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) wrote a strongly worded letter urging him to do just that.
Of course, Greitens, the Chamber of Commerce governor who gleefully signed anti-worker “right-to-work” legislation and a ban on Project Labor Agreements into law, did no such thing. How could he? His Big Business, dark money backers didn’t want it.
Politically, it would have been brazenly cruel to see a smiling Greitens signing legislation taking away a raise workers had already received. So Greitens – realizing the repeal bill, which had been passed by both the House and Senate and would thus become law with or without his signature – demonstrated his true political cowardice and refused to sign the legislation, simply letting it go into effect July 15, pulling money directly out of the pockets of 35,000 of St. Louis’ lowest paid workers.
St. Louis minimum wage workers, who had briefly seen their earnings rise to $10 an hour, will now see their wages go back to the state-set minimum of $7.70 an hour – a 23 percent decrease.
Kansas City’s new minimum wage law, set to go into effect Sept. 18, is wiped out now as well.
As a bonus, the legislation also prohibits other municipalities from enacting their own minimum wage legislation. It was a win-win for Big Business and a lose-lose for workers.
PLEADING WITH A POLITICAL COWARD
McCann Beatty called Greitens out for what he is – a political coward who could have done the right thing if only he had the courage stand up to his corporate, dark money backers. Her letter was unequivocating:
Dear Gov. Greitens,
You recently announced you will neither sign nor veto HB 1194, legislation that essentially nullifies a St. Louis City ordinance that currently sets the local minimum wage at $10 an hour, thus rolling back the minimum wage to the state rate of $7.70 an hour. As a result, the bill will automatically become law on July 15 and smack minimum wage workers with a 23 percent pay cut when it takes effect on Aug. 28.
Your decision to do nothing in this instance is the cowardly dodge of a professional politician who hopes to have it both ways. Based on your own comments, you clearly don’t like the idea of higher pay for low-wage workers. But it is just as clear that you know cutting wages for thousands of St. Louis workers is wrong and you hope that by letting HB 1194 become law without your signature, you can avoid responsibility for the harm it will cause.
It won’t work. You have the power to veto HB 1194. If you choose not to exercise it, every St. Louis worker who sees a massive cut in their paycheck come Aug. 28 will know Eric Greitens made it possible, and your talk of creating jobs and improving pay will be exposed as nothing more than empty words.
You still have a few days to do both the courageous and right thing and veto HB 1194. I strongly urge you to take this opportunity before it slips away.
State Rep. Gail McCann Beatty
House Minority Leader
Thank you, Representative McCann Beatty, for doing the right thing. It’s too bad our Governor couldn’t do the same.