(St.Joseph,MO)Missourians could soon be voting on a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. A petition sponsored by the group Raise Up Missouri is working to gradually increase minimum wage over the next five years.
Jack and Robin Redmon live in St.Joesph and both agree that minimum wage should be raised, but they have different ideas about how to start raising wages.
“I think it’s a good idea, the cost of living keeps going up and the wages don’t. Raise the minimum wage for them,” Jack said.
Robin believes increased wages should be based on experience and job performance.
“I’m in agreement to raise minimum wage, however I think people need to earn that,” Robin said. “I think there needs to be some type of performance evaluations to determine what you get. If you have experience, I believe that you should make a little bit more money and if you are a good employee and not just because you are starting out you should automatically make a certain amount.”
Raise Up Missouri Communications Director Tony Wyche said the group started the petition after noticing a large number of people in Missouri were working full-time jobs, but still living in poverty.
“Everybody knows that things like the cost of food, housing, shelter, transportation, the basic necessities we all have in our daily lives have gone up every year, but the cost of wages has not kept pace,” Wyche said.
Currently minimum wage in Missouri is set at $7.85 per hour. The petition would immediately increase minimum wage to $8.60 per hour on January 1, 2019 and gradually increase by 85 cents each year until it reached $12 per hour in 2023.
Several large businesses throughout the state have also added their support to the cause by launching the group Businesses for a Fair Wage.
“Over 200 businesses across the state of Missouri all want to raise the minimum wage,because they know it’s good for business. It puts more money in their employee’s pockets which they in turn spend in local small businesses across the state,” Wyche said.
Regional businesses like The Record Bar in Kansas City have signed on in support of raising the state wages, but Jack thinks it might take a little more coaxing to have smaller businesses get on board.
“It might be a little bit of a strain at first, but they are going to pass it [costs] on to the consumers anyways so we’re all going to feel the effects,” Jack said.
Petitioners collected over 120,000 signatures from voters across the state. The petition is currently waiting on an evaluation from Secretary of State John Ashcroft.If approved, the initiative will be placed on the November ballot.