St. Louis aldermen compromise on minimum wage bill

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – St. Louis City Aldermen worked through lunch Tuesday during a special session to move a city minimum wage hike forward.  The original proposal for a $15 per hour minimum wage to be phased in was reduced to an $11 per hour wage by January 1, 2018.  The legislation calls for a 60-cent boost by October 15, 2015 and several more hikes over the next two years.

The bill and several amendments were debated.  It received 15 yes votes and will need at least 15 votes to pass on the final vote Friday.  St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay indicates he will sign it.

Not all the inner city aldermen supported the measure.  21st ward Alderman Antonio French spoke against the measure.  “I do worry this will increase unemployment in the city I do worry this will make it less attractive for the business we are trying to get, “he said.  French noted the major problem in his ward was not minimum wage jobs but a lack of jobs.

Main sponsor Ald. Shane Cohn of the 25th ward urged the body to accept the bill.  “This is an economic and moral imperative for the city of St. Louis for the region and the state,” he argued.  Fifteenth Ward Ald. Megan Green said the measure would “level the playing field” for low income workers.  But 8th Ward Ald. Steve Conway warned employers will turn to college students instead of high school dropouts if they are forced to pay ten dollars or more an hour.  “The people you want to help, you will hurt,” he predicted.

Supporters are concerned the Missouri Legislature will overturn a Governor Nixon veto in September and prevent cities from enacting minimum wage laws.  There is some debate over whether the law would go into affect retroactively on August 28th… the same day the Board of Aldermen has scheduled to take a final vote on the amended floor substitute for Board Bill 83.