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Missouri home health care workers call on Nixon to implement pay raise

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Approximately 80 home health care workers demonstrated outside Gov. Jay Nixon's office Wednesday, demanding that he sign off on an agreement that could lead to their getting higher wages.

The agreement between the Quality Home Care Council and the union representing home care workers would set a pay-scale ranging from $8.50 an hour to $10.15 an hour. They currently average around $8.60 an hour, but some earn the state's minimum wage of $7.65 an hour.

Elizabeth Travis is a home care worker from Columbia and a member of the union's bargaining team.

"We've had several delegations come and talk to people in the governor's office, (but) we have not made any headway," Travis said. "We're hoping (with) this show of force that we'll get somewhere this time."

About a dozen of the demonstrators went inside the governor's state Capitol office, hoping to meet with him or one of his representatives. But Nixon was in St. Louis, attending an event to promote high-tech startups in Missouri. They met instead with Emily Kalmer, Nixon's deputy legislative director.

"What we need are answers," Travis said after the meeting. "We need to know why this is being held up."

Nixon, a Democrat, announced back in December that he would implement the agreement through an administrative rule, but home care workers objected to that approach because it also required approval from state lawmakers. Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted to block Nixon's proposed rule change.

Robert Minor is with the Kansas City chapter of the group Jobs with Justice. He told reporters that Nixon has the authority to implement the agreement right now.

"The contract has been signed, and so it is a legal contract, and therefore it needs to be implemented," Minor said. "I believe that the governor knows what to do … this is a legal deal."

In 2008, Missouri voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition B, which created the Quality Home Care Council.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.