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Pro & Con: Proposition B would raise the minimum wage to $12 for Missouri workers

Richard von Glahn, at left, and Ray McCarty debated Proposition B during St. Louis Public Radio's Oct. 24 forum.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Nov. 6, Missourians will decide the future of the statewide minimum wage when they cast their ballots on Proposition B: The $12 Minimum Wage Initiative.

The measure would increase the minimum wage incrementally, with the end goal of a universal $12 minimum wage.

Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air featured a conversation about Prop B that originally took place at St. Louis Public Radio’s Oct. 24 ballot issues forum. Host Don Marsh moderated the debate between proponent Richard von Glahn of Missouri Jobs with Justice and opponent Ray McCarty of Associated Industries of Missouri.

Pro: Richard von Glahn, organizing director of Missouri Jobs for Justice, wants Missourians to vote ‘yes’ on Prop B

Richard von Glahn defended Proposition B, arguing that “businesses cannot thrive if their workers live in poverty.”

“Proposition B will help workers, it will help businesses, and it will move Missouri forward,” he said.

Von Glahn’s major points in favor of Prop B were as follows:

  1. “You should not be telling a full-time worker… that they are only worth $314 a week, $16,000 a year. That is simply not enough to survive on in any community in this state.”
  2. “The reality is, we have a consumer-driven economy. You need consumers with purchasing power.”
  3. “By putting more money in workers’ hands, they are able to go out and spend it in our local economies and help drive economic growth in the state.”
  4. “What employers need in Missouri is a consumer base that has money to be able to spend.”
  5. “No one who works full time should be expected to live in poverty.”
  6. “[These workers] care for and help raise our families, but often times, they cannot afford to care for their own.”
  7. “When low-wage workers get money, they don’t put it in a savings account. They don’t send it overseas … they do the things that they have been needing to do for months or years and haven’t had an opportunity to do. And that is why you see over 600 Missouri businesses … that know that this is gonna be a good thing, because this is gonna put money in their neighbors’ pockets.”

Con: Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri, wants Missourians to vote ‘no’ on Prop B

Central to Ray McCarty’s argument against Proposition B was the notion that “money doesn’t grow on trees.”

“The government can say that the wage has to go up, but it doesn’t give businesses any more money to pay that wage with,” explained McCarty. “So, if you’re a business owner and you’re responsible for paying your people and you have to pay more per hour, then you have several choices. You either raise your prices … or you have to cut hours for those minimum-wage workers … or you reduce the number of minimum-wage workers.”

McCarty’s major points against Prop B were as follows:

  1. “Money has to come from somewhere. So, what do you say to the workers that don’t have jobs anymore because they’ve had to reduce the number of entry-level jobs?”
  2. “Reducing hours, reducing the number of these jobs … those are not good solutions.”
  3. “We’re just afraid you’re gonna end up hurting the very population you’re trying to help.”
  4. Though McCarty said businesses could reduce costs elsewhere to compensate for paying workers more, he added that “after the economic downturn, everyone is pretty rolled down as far as they can go as far as costs.”
  5. “When we were all growing up, our minimum-wage job was where we started, and then we hoped to get experience and move on to additional jobs where you could get paid more. It seems like people sometimes think that minimum wage is a stopping point.”
  6. “If we’re gonna bring a government solution into it, maybe we provide additional training to people so they can take some of the skilled jobs that we have open right now. With 3.2 percent unemployment, we have a lot of jobs open right now, and if people had the skills to get those jobs, they wouldn’t be making minimum wage – they’d be making double or triple that.”

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan and Xandra Ellin give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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