By Bruce Franks Jr.
Gov. Eric Greitens and state Republican legislators have decided to lower St. Louis’ newly implemented minimum wage. That means more than 31,000 hardworking people could lose as much as $400 when the hourly minimum wage drops from $10 back to $7.70 at the end of August. It’s the second time in U.S. history that lawmakers have lowered the minimum wage for working people.
It’s the latest, cruelest act by Jefferson City Republicans in their long war against workers winning higher pay. In 2015, St. Louis passed an ordinance to gradually raise the $7.70 hourly minimum wage — which had only increased 40 cents in the last seven years. Instead of applauding a raise that would improve people’s lives, business lobbyists held up the law with lawsuits. And after workers finally won their day in court and got their $10 per hour in May, Republican legislators rammed through HB 1194, which nullified the increase. Last month, Gov. Greitens made the heartless decision to allow the bill to become law.
Republican politicians in Jefferson City may be dead-set on moving us back, but we as a community still have the power to come together and chart the way forward. That’s why I’m urging employers in our city to “Save the Raise.”
Despite obstruction from Jefferson City, all St. Louis employers still have the power to pay the fair wage of $10 per hour after Aug. 28. And there’s a sound economic reason to do so.
Raising the wage means workers paying the bills on time, putting food on the table and having a little extra money to spend. Studies have shown the more money working people have in their paychecks, the more they can spend locally, making our economy stronger for everyone.
Every year, Missouri taxpayers shell out $2.4 billion to cover the cost of public assistance for low-wage workers. Without a raise for minimum wage workers, taxpayers will continue to be left on the hook while big companies in our area get a free pass.
Without a raise, St. Louis’ rising income inequality will continue to grow — as will the instability it causes. Over the past decade in St. Louis, wages for white-collar workers like engineers and lawyers have risen, while real wages for blue-collar workers and service workers have shrunk by 7.1 percent and 8 percent, respectively. It’s getting harder and harder to get ahead in our city if you’re already on the margins.
Crime, an issue that urgently needs to be addressed in St. Louis, is closely connected to income inequality.
Shortly after deciding to take away workers’ raises, Gov. Greitens announced a plan to fight crime that would increase police presence on our highways and rack up taxpayer bills, but ignore the root causes of crime in St. Louis communities: crushing poverty, deep inequality and a lack of opportunity.
Workers protested his event, rightfully asking the governor: How can you be serious about fighting crime in St. Louis when you want to rip money out of our pockets and food out of our children’s mouths?
As influential members of the St. Louis community, local employers have the power to help tackle crime by saving the raise for their employees. Creating good jobs is a real solution to making our communities strong and safe, by providing opportunities to the families getting left behind by the governor and Jefferson City politicians.
Missouri Republicans, although supposedly the champions of small government, have overreached and tried to take away the voices of St. Louis voters. By pledging to “Save the Raise,” employers in St. Louis should send a message to Jefferson City that a $10 per hour wage is good for their business, good for Missouri’s working families and good for the city’s economy and safety.
Let the obstructers in Jefferson City keep obstructing, because employers can and should take matters into their own hands and move the city forward.
State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. is a Democrat from St. Louis.
Over the weekend, violent, hate-filled white supremacists marched throughout Charlottesville, VA. These domestic terrorists waved their ignorance with Nazi and Confederate flags. They were there, proclaiming that the white race is the superior race and should dominate our country. These are the faces of the alt-right, who have been emboldened by the election of Trump.
One white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. In the work we do, at rallies and marches, she could have been any one of us.
SEIU Local 1 is committed to creating a world where all have the opportunity to live and thrive. As an organization that is working to end anti-black racism, SEIU Local 1 is committed to wiping out oppression at all levels. White supremacy, in Charlottesville and beyond, is against us and our values. We will continue to fight for justice and liberation for our members, families, and communities.
Working people come together to make Lambert an economic engine for all of St. Louis
ST. LOUIS– Janitors at St. Louis Lambert International Airport voted overwhelmingly to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 to raise standards at our city’s airport and ensure travelers enjoy the best experience possible. SEIU Local 1 represents 50,000 working people across the Midwest including more than 6,000 in the St. Louis region.
“Our airport should be an economic engine for our entire city, not just the airlines. That means fighting to raise standards at Lambert and making sure airport jobs are good jobs,” said St. Louis Lambert International Airport Janitor Lasean Smith. “Lambert is the first place many people see when they visit St. Louis, and by coming together on the job, we can make that experience for travelers even better.”
The janitors, who are employed by Regency Enterprise Services, will hit the bargaining table in the fall to kick off negotiations for a contract that guarantees annual raises and a voice on the job.
The decision to join SEIU Local 1 comes as Missouri’s working families face unprecedented attacks from state politicians. Earlier this year, Governor Eric Greitens signed Right-to-Work legislation in an attempt to silence working people on the job. This summer, the governor and Republican legislators cut the St. Louis minimum wage, slashing pay for more than 30,000 working families by up to 23 percent. But even in the face of adversity, working people continue to unite on the job for higher wages, affordable benefits, and a better future.
SEIU Local 1 Residential Division engineers, janitors, and maintenance workers have spent weeks, tirelessly working on negotiating a strong, new contract. When Local 1 members came together and kicked off their campaign to protect their health benefits, win good raises, and secure their retirement programs, they also wanted to let Chicago contractors know: We mean business!
United in the fight, janitors, maintenance workers, and engineers have rallied for the past few weeks, and their strength continues to grow! Each residential rally is bigger than the last with future rallies planned in the coming weeks.
Despite our efforts to build a better future for our families, contract negotiations broke down with ABOMA last week. ABOMA has refused to budge on important issues to Local 1 residential members and their families but Local 1 members will not go down without a fight! We will continue to stand united as we face obstacles in negotiations.
Together, we are showing ABOMA AND non-union contractors throughout Chicago that we fight hard and don’t back down. We won’t back down because this is about what our families and what our great city deserves. We’re fighting to raise standards for ALL working people in Chicago. Local 1 members will keep up the pressure until they win the financial security they need to support their families.
Stay tuned for more updates!
ST. LOUIS – St. Charles Community College part-time faculty members overwhelmingly ratified their first contract, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees on July 17, 2017.
The four-year agreement, expiring in 2021, will increase wages; stabilize scheduling for the part-time faculty members; allow part-time faculty equal academic freedom with full-time faculty; and improve the lives of the faculty, and more importantly, the students at St. Charles Community College.
“This ratification is a really big moment for SCC adjuncts in gaining respect and recognition on campus,” said Lisa Decarli, part-time faculty member in sociology. “Through this contract, not only will we get pay raises, but we’ll also have increased job security, a formal grievance process, and a respected and powerful voice on campus. I’m so thrilled to be part of this national movement to make higher education fairer.”
The agreement demonstrates the vital role part-time faculty play in the world-class, innovative learning environment that the college provides. St. Charles Community College is committed to expanding access to higher education and professional and career development for students, businesses and communities served.
“Part-time faculty are an important part of the SCC community,” said Barbara Kavalier, Ph.D., SCC president. “We are pleased that continued collaboration between the team has resulted in an agreement that demonstrates their value and improves the student experience.”
The more than 250 St. Charles Community College part-time faculty members voted to join Service Employees International Union Local 1 on March 3, 2016.
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Service Employees International Union Local 1 unites 50,000 workers throughout the Midwest including janitors, security officers, higher education faculty, food service workers, and others. Local 1 is committed to improving the lives of its members and all working people by winning real economic justice and standing at the forefront of the fight for immigrant, racial, and environmental justice.
St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.