States use a troubling 'tool' to roll back minimum wage gains

 Image thanks to The Christian Science Monitor

Image thanks to The Christian Science Monitor

By:  JoEllen Chernow, director of economic justice, Center for Popular Democracy.    "At the beginning of this year, around 4.4 million workers across America received modest raises as cities and states enacted new laws aimed at giving hourly workers living wages.

The country's lowest-paid workers saw increases in their paychecks in 19 states, with the highest new minimum wages this year in Massachusetts and Washington at $11 per hour. In coming years, New York and California will bump up their minimum wages to $15.

But in some areas of the country, local wage laws are meeting with resistance from state governments.

Fast food workers in St. Louis received their first raise in years in May, only to have it stolen a few months later. Imagine one day bringing home $10 an hour and the next falling back to their old wage of $7.70.

The Missouri state legislature passed a law to cap the minimum wage across the state at $7.70 an hour, rolling back higher wages approved by local governments in St. Louis and Kansas City. This is less than one third of the living wage of $26.44 per hour in St. Louis, which is what a family of four needs to live adequately in the city."  Read More