Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis' Minimum Wage Hike May Be Dead after Aldermanic Surprise

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis' Minimum Wage Hike May Be Dead after Aldermanic Surprise

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * The city's drive to raise the minimum wage within its limits may have been dealt a death blow Friday.

Alderman Joe Vaccaro, the acting chairman of the city's Ways and Means committee, abruptly announced he was canceling all future hearings on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, potentially killing the bill.

"I think it was disingenuous of the mayor and the sponsor to put this bill in front of us with such short notice," Vaccaro said from the floor of the aldermanic chamber at the end of Friday's meeting.

The news shocked Vaccaro's colleagues, especially the board members who were racing to pass the bill before Aug. 28, when a state law could kick in forbidding the city from taking such an action. Aldermen who support the bill will have to scramble to find alternative ways to get the bill to the full board in time to beat the deadline.

"This was my decision, I made it last night," Vaccaro said later. "No one knew on this board that I was doing this. I think that's why the shock went through, but I wanted to keep it that way."

Mayor Francis Slay and Alderman Shane Cohn announced a plan this month to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an-hour by 2020, a rate nearly double Missouri's $7.65.

The Missouri Legislature passed a bill in this year's session to bar cities from raising the minimum wage higher than the state level. It also prevents cities from taking other actions that would require businesses to provide employee benefits that "exceed the requirements of federal or state laws, rules or regulations."

If Gov. Jay Nixon signs the bill, it would take effect by Aug. 28, city officials said. Nixon has not made clear what he will do.

Aldermen go on summer break July 10.

Vaccaro said the city can re-examine its position if Nixon vetoes the bill.

"There is no one that does not agree that minimum wage needs to be raised, but without enough time to get all the facts it would be impossible to come up with what is fair and equitable for everyone" by the state deadline, Vaccaro said. …

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