Friday, September 22, 2023
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Judge Kills St. Louis’|Minimum Wage Hike

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A state judge Wednesday struck down St. Louis' minimum wage law, hours before it was to increase to 65 cents over the state minimum of $7.60 an hour.

St. Louis aldermen in August approved an ordinance to increase the city's minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2018. The minimum wage was set to increase today (Thursday) to $8.25 an hour. It was to increase to $9 on Jan. 1, to $10 in 2017 and $11 in 2018.

Several business groups, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, sued the city in September.

Among the city's arguments for raising the minimum wage were social issues, such as the unrest in Ferguson.

But 22nd Judicial Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer ruled that it is the court's duty to "determine the validity of the ordinance without considering the social or economic effect of its enforcement."

Ohmer issued his order and injunction at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, hours before its midnight implementation.

So city workers will not receive a raise unless a higher court overturns Ohmer's ruling. Mayor Francis Slay, a supporter of the wage increase, said the issue is not dead.

"We will appeal the ruling with the hope that higher courts will affirm the city's authority to adopt its own minimum wage," Slay said via Twitter.

Aside from conflicting with state law, opponents said a minimum wage increase would force businesses to leave for St. Louis County, where the minimum wage is set by state law.

St. Louis is just part of a growing national debate over raising the minimum wage. Several major cities - including Los Angeles - recently approved rate increases.

Richard von Glahn, of Missouri Jobs with Justice, said the St. Louis Board of Aldermen understand that the "crisis of poverty wages needs to be addressed at every level in our economy," thanked the city for doing its part.

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