ST. LOUIS - As the minimum wage continues to increase in cities across the nation, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay plans to join the trend.
The hope is that by raising the city's minimum wage to $15, the lowest income earners will receive the economic boost needed to overcome poverty. Although the bill would not come into effect until Jan. 1, 2020, St. Louis' Ward 25 Alderman Shane Cohn will introduce the bill to the Board of Aldermen this Friday.
If the bill passes as written, the minimum wage in St. Louis would jump from $7.65 to $10 an hour within weeks of being signed by Mayor Slay.The minimum wage in the city would then increase in steps every year until it reaches $15 in 2020.
Businesses with 15 or fewer employees and those that do less than $500,000 in sales per year would be exempt.
The minimum wage hike proposal has been met with opposition by local businesses as the city already imposes a one percent earnings tax.
"We've gone from the days of being told we had no shot to $15 an hour becoming a reality all over the country," said Bettie Douglas, a St. Louis McDonald's employee. "Momentum is building from coast to coast—from St. Louis to Los Angeles—to end the low-wage crisis that's making it impossible for people like me to get by without relying on public assistance."
However, some business owners still fear it will hurt their bottom line.
About 30 people work at popular Soulard Bar Hammerstone's. The co-owner, Lyn Hammerstone, says she would have to make special arrangements to pay her employees 15 dollars an hour. Hammerstone says it would be tough.
"I might have to give myself more money with a credit line," she said.
Kansas City's Mayor Sly James also tried to increase his city's tax by 2020, allowing voters to decide in the fall's polls, but met enough opposition that his proposal was backtracked. The city is now encouraging community discussion to reach agreeable terms.
A bill passed by the Missouri General Assembly would allow the cities to make the wage adjustment if they take action by August 28.
The minimum wage has gone through adjustments since last year when it was raised to $10.10.