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Opposition heats up on St. Louis minimum wage proposal


Saint Louis, Mo. — Less than two weeks after St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced a plan to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020, groups representing various businesses in the area are coming out in opposition.

Earlier this week, the Missouri Restaurant Association published the results of a study they commissioned by Dr. David Macpherson of Trinity University. The study doesn’t pull punches, and says St. Louis will lose thousands of jobs to surrounding municipalities not bound to the “dramatic mandate” of a new minimum wage.

Today, the St. Louis Regional Chamber made its position known publicly for the first time when their President, Joe Regean, made comments at a public event.

“If passed, we believe it will negatively impact workers, further fragment local government and weaken the city of St. Louis,” Regean said. “This additional fee on St. Louis city employers adds to the cost of doing business in our central city at a time when urban development is most needed.”

Regean’s objections come just one day after the St. Louis Board of Alderman held its first public hearing on the proposal, which would increase the city minimum wage to $10 an hour upon passage and then increase by $1.25 annually until reaching a $15 rate in 2020. After that, increases would be tied to inflation.

Slay and the Board members in support appear to be pushing for the proposal’s passage before August 28, the deadline established by HB722, a bill passed by the legislature that, if signed by the governor, would prohibit any increases to a local city’s minimum wage that exceeded state levels. Although city officials maintain that they have the authority to raise the wage regardless of the deadline or HB 722’s passage. Any increase to the minimum wage in St. Louis is likely to be the subject of a court battle.

While Slay and the plan’s official sponsor on the Board, Alderman Shane Cohn, have established a $15 rate as the goal, sources close to the debate say that number is flexible, and likely to be negotiated down.