In St. Louis this year, minimum wage workers have celebrated a boost in their earnings thanks to a law passed in the city which required employers to boost their lowest paid employees from $8.30 an hour to $10.
That boost to minimum wage went into effect two months ago, and has given welcome relief to the poorest in the city.
Unfortunately, Republicans in the rest of Missouri are seeking to return the boosted wages in St. Louis to their previous number, effectively stealing money from minimum wage workers in the state.
Republicans are seeking to achieve this by passing legislation barring individual cities from legislating at the city level when it comes to issues related to employment. The legislation, if passed, would bar all cities in the state from passing any legislation related to minimum wage, sick leave, plastic bag tax, and several other issues.
Their motive is clear: if places like St. Louis are able to act independently and succeed with their more ambitious, liberal legislation, other cities may follow suit. Eventually, Republicans fear, they might be forced to adopt a higher minimum wage or other improvements statewide.
What St. Louis workers are facing is just a small part of an ongoing conflict between liberal, local governments and conservative state legislatures. It is just one of many cities to be subjected to restrictive rules regarding what cities can and cannot legislate, and each law holds back progress at every level.
As of February of this year, 24 states now bar their cities from providing local minimum wage hikes, while 17 block paid leave mandates on a local level. The Republicans have been able to achieve this because of their legislative dominance at both the state and national level – there simply are not enough Democratic officials to push back and stop these limiting laws.
Locals in St. Louis are understandably saddened, frightened, and angry about the possibility of losing their wage boost.