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Republicans and Workers: Rhetoric and Reality

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The Missouri GOP: Rhetoric

The Missouri GOP: Reality

Bettie Douglas has worked at a McDonald’s in St. Louis for 10 years. For the last three months, she’s made $10 per hour. On Monday, when she got to work, she was working for $7.90 per hour.

Douglas didn’t get demoted, she isn’t in trouble with her bosses, and she didn’t change jobs. What changed is that a new Missouri law went into effect Monday, capping the minimum wage across the state at $7.70. The law overturned higher minimum wages set by St. Louis and Kansas City, in effect cutting many low-income workers’ take-home pay overnight.

“It’s horrible. It’s ridiculous. It’s just ridiculous,” Douglas told me during a break from her shift on Monday. She’s an activist who has been involved in the Fight for $15 and in a group lobbying St. Louis businesses to maintain the higher threshold voluntarily. “I have bills to pay, just like everybody else. I don’t get any type of assistance. What makes them think that anybody can live off of $7.90? I’m not asking them for anything I haven’t earned. I’ve earned $10 after 10 years.”

Leaders in the city of St. Louis agreed, and in 2015 they passed an ordinance designed to slowly increase the city’s minimum wage to $11 per hour. The move was challenged in courts, but the city eventually prevailed, and in May, the hourly base wage rose to $10 per hour. The following month, Missouri’s Republican-dominated General Assembly passed a law capping the minimum wage statewide.

I guess the GOP only thinks that workers deserve a higher wage if their betters, by which they of course mean their bosses, want to give it to them out of the generosity of their heart, assuming they have one.

It’s worth stating again that this is why corporations and conservatives are so enamored of locating power in the states specifically. It’s not about local control or the Constitution or anything else. It’s that the federal government is so large that once laws are enacted, it’s hard to change them, whereas cities are too unpredictable and small, meaning great variance from township to township on anything from wages to recycling. But the state? You can buy state legislators cheap.

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