Local advocates fight to increase minimum wage

The Raise the Wage campaign in Missouri would affect more than 350,000 people who currently live in poverty across the state.

ST. LOUIS – As some people throughout the state of Missouri struggle pay their bills and heat their homes, some people in Ferguson are organizing in hopes of raising the minimum wage.

Saturday, advocates signed a petition at a town hall meeting to put the issue on the ballot. Now, they're hoping people all over the state will do the same.

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The Raise the Wage campaign in Missouri would affect more than 350,000 people who currently live in poverty across the state.

Bettie Douglas is one local woman who said this change could mean a normal life for her and her family. 60-year-old Douglas is a mother of three who's worked at McDonalds for more than a decade.

"I was supposed to be full time but when we got the raise they cut our hours back," Douglas said.

She currently lives in a home with no heat and has been all winter, due to her furnace being broken.

"The gas was off because I couldn't afford it. When it started getting cold I paid the gas bill, saved up got it on, then I found out that the furnace wouldn't come on," Douglas said.

Douglas was told her entire furnace would need to be replaced and with wages at $10 an hour she can’t afford to get it fixed. That’s why she’s fighting along with Missouri lawmakers and other citizens to raise the minimum wage.

"I'm just tired of being cold,” Douglas said.

Congressman Lacy Clay said if the petition makes it to the ballot in November 2018, this could change the lives of more than 350,000 people living in poverty throughout the state.

"That's so important no one should work a full-time job and live below the federal poverty level," Clay said.

If the wage increase does make it to the ballot and gets approved by voters, minimum wage would gradually increase to $12 per hour by 2023.

For Douglas and her family that could mean having heat that keeps them warm, something often taken for granted. That’s why she plans to keep fighting until wages are increased for everyone making minimum wage.

"How do you think that makes me feel I can’t even keep my baby warm. You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything," Douglas said.

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Congressman Lacy Clay strongly supports federal legislation to raise national minimum wage to $15 an hour, but he also believes gradually increasing wages would be a step in the right direction.

Opponents believe it will hurt some businesses in Missouri and some will need to leave or close shop.

According to Ballotpedia.org, the minimum is just over 100,000, and they have to be filed by May 6