Missouri has the lowest minimum wage in the country of those states that pay more than the federally mandated $7.25 per hour. In this state a minimum wage employee must work at least 76 hours per week to afford the basic essentials necessary to sustain life. A vast majority of people who work for minimum wage are adults with families to feed and shelter.

Over a year ago the democratically elected St. Louis Board of Aldermen recognized that this was a problem and voted to give those struggling financially some relief. The Board passed a progressively raising minimum wage that would’ve given the hard working people of the city a hand up and a path to the middle class. This move was met with fierce resistance from lobbyist groups like The Missouri Retailers Association and The Missouri Restaurant Association as this meant that after years of paying starvation wages forcing their employees to either seek government assistance or do without, that they would have to finally pay a fair wage for an honest days work.

After over a year of legal fights The Missouri Supreme Court upheld the decision of The Board of Alderman on Tuesday. The wage increase should be going into effect soon, but not if Representative Dan Shaul and Republicans in Jefferson City have their way. Representative Shaul, who is the director of The Missouri Grocers Association, has fast-tracked legislation that is now in committee to halt the wage increase which would save the industry he represents millions of dollars. It’s apparent Mr. Shaul is much more concerned with representing the interests of his industry than those of his constituents that work in the St. Louis metro area.

Like “Right to Work” or the proposed repeal of prevailing wage the defense for this legislation is “it’s friendly to business”. Well guys, what about a piece of legislation that’s friendly to employees? What about the moral principle that people are more important than profits? What about the belief that it’s people that make businesses thrive not numbers on a spreadsheet?

Have a great weekend, but remember to call Rep. Shaul on Monday to ask him whether he is a representative of his constituents or of the grocery lobby. – Joseph Poor