We did it! In a resounding victory for working families, the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council approved a higher minimum wage this afternoon. This result comes in large part from intense pressure placed on the City Council by social justice organizations, activists, and people like you: concerned citizens willing to add your signature to petitions, to contact councilpersons, and show up at City Hall when it mattered most.
The council members who voted for a higher minimum wage were Quinton Lucas, Jermaine Reed, Katheryn Shields, Lee Barnes Jr., Alissia Canady, Scott Taylor, Teresa Loar, and Kevin McManus. Mayor Sly James, Scott Wagner, Heather Hall, and Dan Fowler voted against, while Jolie Justus was absent.
The ordinance establishes an $8.50 per hour minimum wage starting September 18, 2017, an increase to $13.00 by January 1, 2023, and in 2024 it will increase or decrease according to the cost of living.
The measure came at a time when the future of wages throughout Missouri is uncertain. A bill is moving through the Missouri Legislature to prohibit cities from raising their own minimum wages. It is the hope of advocates that this move by the City Council secures higher pay for Kansas Citians before the bill can be passed, but the threat remains that the Missouri Legislature might retroactively veto the Council's ordinance.
Councilpersons Lucas, Reed, and Shields spoke most passionately about the need to give Kansas Citians the ability to afford the necessities of life, such as rent, food, gas, utilities, and medicine, that are continually growing more expensive while wages remain stagnant. Shields reminded the chamber that "it is never the wrong time to do the right thing."
Mayor James was the most vocal against the ordinance, saying it will be overruled by the state. He put forward and helped pass a resolution to support a statewide petition initiative to get a higher minimum wage for all Missouri on the 2018 ballot.