Clergy and Community Leaders Join Low Wage Workers to Call for Minimum Wage Increase
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Faith leaders and community allies today called on Missouri senatorial candidates and the public to support a minimum wage increase. More than 100 supporters attended an event outside Applebee’s in Clayton to pledge their support for an increase in the minimum wage, and to encourage senate candidates Todd Akin, Sarah Steelman, and John Brunner to join Senator Claire McCaskill in publicly taking a stand on the increase.
"I know that the middle class is the economic engine of this country. Without a fair minimum wage that keeps pace with higher costs of living, our middle class will continue to shrink, not grow,” said Senator Claire McCaskill. “I support an increase in the minimum wage as one of the many ways we can continue to get our economic recovery back on track."
The rally focused on the Missouri ballot initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage one dollar to $8.25 per hour, as well as federal legislation that would raise the minimum wage nationally to $9.80 per hour. The current minimum wage of $7.25 gives a full-time worker $290/week and $15,080/year, before taxes are taken out, which is $7,000 below the poverty line for a family of four.
“For me the faith community and the labor community have always been intertwined. Today, we want to lift up the wages of working people. This will provide the dignity that comes with a fair wage so that Missouri families can provide for the basics of life: home, healthcare, and education,” said Father Richard Creason, Pastor of Most Holy Trinity Church. “Ensuring those basics enhances the dignity of all.”
Community members and faith leaders heard testimony from struggling local low wage and minimum wage workers who face difficult decisions every day while trying to make ends meet.
“I’ve been a home care worker serving seniors and people with disabilities for 20 years now and I’m still living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet,” explained Val Gordon, a local worker who has earned minimum wage at points throughout her career. “In 2003 I made $6.65 an hour and did not get a raise until our federal minimum wage laws increased to $7.25 in 2009. Since then I have only had a thirteen cent increase and I face difficult decisions every day about which bills to pay and how I can still put food on the table.”
The event, organized by Missouri Jobs with Justice and allies, was part of a National Day of Action taking place in 17 major cities across the country marking the 3rd anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage, from $5.85 to $7.25 an hour.
The rally took place on the heels of a key report released from the National Employment Law Project (NELP). The central finding of this report is that the majority of America’s lowest‐paid workers are employed by large corporations, not small businesses, and that most of the largest low‐wage employers have recovered from the recession and are in a strong financial position.
Read the entire report here. Missouri Jobs with Justice, along with many allies, turned in approximately 160,000 petition signatures to qualify the $1 statewide increase on the November ballot.
Learn more about the state campaign to raise the minimum wage at www.givemoaraise.org.
Supporters are planning additional actions in support of a raise to the minimum wage both federally and at the state level through the fall election cycle.