Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Does making Missouri more job-friendly always requrie screwing the working class?

This report just in from the Columbia Tribune's Rudi Keller:

JEFFERSON CITY — On a party-line vote with no debate, the House International Trade and Job Creation Committee voted to eliminate cost-of-living raises for people on minimum wage.

The 10-5 vote is the first step in this year's attempt to overturn a provision of the state minimum wage law voters approved in 2006. The measure is one of the six top priorities of business groups lobbying lawmakers this year.

After the vote, Rep. Jerry Nolte, R-Gladstone and the committee chairman, said the bill will help keep Missouri competitive. If the provision were allowed to stand, Missouri's minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would grow to exceed that of most states on its borders.

“We are in a recessionary period,” Nolte said. “We have got to poise ourselves so when the economy takes off, we are ready to ride the wave.”

Voters approved an initiative petition increasing the state's minimum wage to $6.50 an hour by passing an initiative measure. The proposal received 76 percent of the vote across the state. It included a provision increasing the minimum wage by the amount of inflation, calculated once a year in September. It also required that the state minimum match the federal minimum if the national minimum wage was higher than that set for the state.

The inflation adjustment has been implemented twice, at the beginning of 2008 and 2009, and the wage increased again in July 2009 when the federal minimum rose to $7.25 an hour. For the past two years, the lack of inflation has meant no increases in the state wage.

After the vote, Rep. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, said arguments that a lower minimum wage means more jobs can't be proved. “When we tie the minimum wage to the federal minimum, we are overriding the will of the people,” Holsman said.

Nolte said he didn't see it that way because the state law was passed by voters after nearly a decade with no increases in the federal minimum wage.
Earlier, this was discussed on The Erstwhile Conservative:
FiredUp!Missouri alerted us to an outstanding piece at the Riverfront Times by Chad Garrison. Provocatively but understandably titled, “Does Making Missouri More ‘Job Friendly’ Always Require Screwing the Working Class?” Mr. Garrison explores the consequences of our fanatically “pro business” anti-worker Republican legislature:

One of the proposals would repeal Missouri’s minimum wage law, allowing employers to pay low-wage employees even less. Another would make it easier to terminate employees. Also in the sights of Missouri legislators is an effort to eliminate the state income tax and replace it with a higher sales tax — a move that allows poorer Missourians to shoulder more of the state’s tax burden.

I recommend all readers go to the site and read the entire piece, which among other things discusses Missouri’s 2006 Proposition B. The initiative passed in every county in Missouri and statewide garnered 76% of the vote, in support of raising the state minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. Garrison points out that Darden Restaurants, which has two franchises in Joplin—Red Lobster and Olive Garden—donated $25,000 to an effort to kill the proposition. Various McDonald’s also donated money to stop the effort to raise the minimum wage.

As Garrison notes, the beef with the wage mandate is this:

Missouri law states that tipped employees must be paid half of the prevailing minimum wage (a.k.a. $3.63 per hour), which is more than the federal law for tipped employees of $2.13.

Oh my God. Pay them $3.63? Why, that’s outrageous.

All Missouri workers should read Garrison’s piece, especially those working stiffs tempted to support Republicans, who are doing everything they can to wage war on those who make the country what it is. Garrison links to an organized effort in Missouri to change Missouri’s labor laws—which are already heavily tilted in favor of employers—to make them even more anti-worker.

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