Workers and members of SEIU Healthcare, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655, the Fight for $15, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and Jobs with Justice hosted a community town hall May 4 at New Northside Family Life Center to speak with Senators Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis), Karla May (D-St. Louis), and Brian Williams (D-St. Louis) about pending legislation in Jefferson City that would roll back their hard won pay increases from Proposition B.
Sixty-two percent of Missouri voters chose to raise Missouri’s minimum wage through Proposition B, but some legislators in Jefferson City have been working to overturn the vote, much as the Legislature did on the last day of session in 2017 when it rolled back a minimum wage increase in St. Louis. This year’s regular legislative session ends Friday, May 17.
WORKERS SPEAK OUT
One of the attacks on Proposition B is Senate Bill 10, which Leslie Shipman, a server at Red Robin and a leader with Jobs with Justice, explained would freeze her hourly tipped wage at just $4.30-an-hour, a 28 percent pay cut from what voters passed.
“SB 10 disrespects the 1.4 million people who voted for a pay raise for all, not a pay raise for some,” Shipman said.
Senate Bill 10 would also create a sub-minimum wage for workers under the age of 18. That would especially impact workers like William Sims, a member of UFCW Local 655, by making it acceptable for – and actually incentivizing – employers to discriminate against older workers.
“I believe that once they start taking the increase away from one group of us, they’ll keep on going until they take it away from all of us,” Sims said.
Daijah Stephenson, a 15-year-old McDonald’s worker and activist with the Fight for $15, said she does as much work as her older coworkers and deserves the same wages.
Elinor Simmons, a member of SEIU Healthcare, shared her story as a home healthcare worker and fired up the audience by pushing them to continue fighting to save the minimum wage increase that Missourians overwhelmingly approved.
Senators Nasheed, May, and Williams have been strong champions of workers in the Missouri Senate and reinforced their commitment at the town hall to ensure workers do not see a repeat of the 2017 wage cuts.
May said legislators have a responsibility as public servants to serve and honor the will of the people.
Williams shared the importance of the minimum wage increase, recalling how he was raised by a young mother who worked at McDonald’s, and noting how a bill like SB 10 would have significantly impacted his family.
Williams grew up in a UAW union family in North St. Louis County that instilled in him the importance of hard work and investing in the community.
Nasheed passionately affirmed her promise to continue advocating for workers as she has during the legislative session, through late nights and filibusters with other minimum wage champions in the Senate.
“Missouri’s workers need to stay vigilant and protect our victories from last fall on ‘right-to-work,’ on raising the minimum wage, and on eliminating gerrymandering (Clean Missouri),” said Richard von Glahn, policy director for Missouri Jobs with Justice.
“While members of the Missouri GOP seem perfectly willing to disrespect our votes, it is great to have champions like Senators May, Nasheed and Williams who will keep fighting for us.”