New Filing Stalls Minimum Wage Implementation in City of St. Louis

Opponents Ask Missouri Supreme Court for Rehearing

March 15, 2017 | 10 min reading time
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Update 03.15.2017

ST. LOUIS-- In an eleventh hour move, opponents of the City's minimum wage ordinance have filed a motion with the Missouri Supreme Court for rehearing.

Despite a unanimous decision by Court Justices upholding the City's minimum wage of currently $10 per hour, opponents have asked the high court to hear the case over again. Today was the last day to file a motion for rehearing. The City cannot enforce the wage established by ordinance in August 2013 until the Supreme Court writes its mandate to the Circuit Court, which then must lift its injunction on enforcement.

"Unfortunately, I'm not surprised by this move," Mayor Francis Slay said. "This is nothing more than a stall tactic that is keeping money out of the pockets of hardworking St. Louisans. The Missouri Legislature gave us a deadline to pass a minimum wage ordinance. We did. Then we litigated the challenge all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court and saw victory. Now members of the State Legislature are doing everything they can to go against their own word and deny employees a right to a higher wage that would help get them off government assistance and better provide for themselves and their families. Sixteen-thousand dollars a year on minimum wage is a paltry way to try to put a roof over your head, food on your table, and secure transportation to work. Instead of fighting local control, the State Legislature would be far better off making sure all Missourians had a higher minimum wage."

Mayor Slay has been in Jefferson City twice in the past two weeks alongside low-wage workers to advocate for the City's wage.

The ongoing challenges to the law that was upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court and the new legislation proposed inJefferson Cityis causing confusion for businesses and employees alike. To help answer questions, the City has established a monitored email address minimumwage@stlouis-mo.gov. Questions or concerns also may be made through the Citizens' Service Bureau online, by calling (314) 622-4800 or tweeting @stlcsb.

Update 03.03.2017

Implementing a Higher Minimum Wage in the City of St. Louis

Email Address Established to Help Answer Questions

ST. LOUIS-- Although the City of St. Louis won the right at the Missouri Supreme Court to enact a higher minimum wage, the City must wait for the final court mandate to enforce it.

Before the City of St. Louis sets an implementation schedule for its increased minimum wage, as upheld in a Missouri Supreme Court ruling, the Court must wait at least 15 days before issuing its mandate. That time is allotted for post-judgment motions seeking reconsideration. Once the Missouri Supreme Court finally issues its mandate, the Circuit Court must then lift an injunction it placed on the City's minimum wage ordinance. This judicial process may take up to 30 days, but an exact timeline for the Courts to complete this process is unclear. No action to enforce the minimum wage may be taken until the process is complete. By law, the City's minimum wage ordinance takes effect the day the Circuit Court lifts its injunction.

The City will update its website page on minimum wage to alert interested persons of the Courts' actions, along with further guidance on compliance and filing complaints. The City only intends to prosecute intentional violators who defy the ordinance after notice from the City. Voluntary compliance is expected, and investigations will be complaint based.

To help answer questions business owners and low-wage workers may have, the City has established a monitored email address minimumwage@stlouis-mo.gov. Questions or concerns also may be made through the Citizens' Service Bureau, by calling (314) 622-4800 or tweeting @stlcsb.

One of the most frequent questions businesses have had is whether they are exempt. The City's minimum wage ordinance lists the following exemptions:

  • Companies with less than $500,000 in annual gross revenue;
  • Companies with no more than 15 employees on a weekly basis;
  • Summer day camp employees, work study employees, and babysitters;
  • Sheltered Workshops.

Employers also shall pay not less than 50 percent of the minimum wage rate to Tipped employees.

In the absence of the legal challenge, the City's minimum wage currently would be $10 per hour. The law, signed by Mayor Slay on August 28, 2015, was designed to phase in a graduated minimum wage on the following schedule:

  • $8.25 on October 15, 2015
  • $9 on January 1, 2016
  • $10 on January 1, 2017
  • $11 on January 1, 2018

Once the minimum wage ordinance is officially affirmed by the Courts' actions, a business that does not follow the City's established ordinance will be prosecuted in Municipal Court. It also may be subject to revocation of its business license and occupancy permit.

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Update 02.28.2017

Missouri Supreme Court Upholds City of St. Louis Minimum Wage Law

ST. LOUIS -- The City of St. Louis won the right for thousands of minimum-wage workers to earn an increase. Today's Missouri Supreme Court ruling upheld the City's ordinance that establishes a minimum wage of $11 per hour by 2018.

The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the State's minimum wage does not preempt the City of St. Louis from establishing a higher minimum wage. The Court explains:

"...Plaintiffs are incorrect that the Missouri minimum wage law is an affirmative authorization to pay no more than the state minimum wage. To the contrary, it simply sets a floor below which an employee cannot be paid... To conclude that the law was intended to protect employers from ever being required to pay a higher wage is at odds with the statute's recognized purpose, which is to ameliorate the "'unequal bargaining power as between employer and employee' and to 'protect the rights of those who toil.'"

"We are very happy with the Supreme Court Justices' decision to uphold our minimum wage increase," Mayor Slay said. "The increase will help lift hard working men and women out of poverty so that they will be able to better provide for themselves and their families. There is dignity and value in having a job -- even more so in one that helps a worker put a roof over her head, food on the table, and save a little for a child's future college education or an emergency medical need."

In the absence of the legal challenge, the City's minimum wage currently would be $10 per hour. The law, signed by Mayor Slay on August 28, 2015, was designed to phase in a graduated minimum wage on the following schedule:

  • $8.25 on October 15, 2015
  • $9 on January 1, 2016
  • $10 on January 1, 2017
  • $11 on January 1, 2018

"It is fair to give businesses a reasonable grace period to adjust to the new minimum wage rate," Mayor Slay said. "We will spend the coming week talking to local business leaders and proponents of a higher minimum wage to prepare to implement the increase."

Once a new implementation schedule has been established, enforcement of the law will be complaint driven. A business that does not follow the City's established ordinance will be prosecuted in Municipal Court. It also may be subject to revocation of its business license and occupancy permit.

Alderman Shane Cohn, 25th Ward, sponsored the minimum wage legislation. In response to today's ruling, said, "This is a proud day for the City of St. Louis and the thousands of workers who will benefit from this decision. Anyone working a full-time job should be able to afford the basic necessities of life;especially food, housing, transportation, and education. I look forward to working with Mayor Slay and the next administration to implement the law passed by my colleagues and affirmed by the Missouri Supreme Court."

"Ideally, the federal government and state government would have addressed this issue by now. But, they haven't, so we were forced to do so," Mayor Slay said. "The City also extends its gratitude to the Dowd Bennett law firm, which volunteered its time to represent the City of St. Louis at no charge from the original trial through the Supreme Court decision."

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Update 10.14.2015

Increasing the Minimum Wage in the City of St. Louis

Mayor Slay Signs Bill Establishing New Local Minimum Wage; Calls for Statewide Increase.ST. LOUIS - On October 14, 2015, a trial court ordered that the City could not implement the new minimum wage ordinance. The court ruled on five different issues, agreeing with the city on three. The City will be appealing the trial court's decision to continue its efforts to raise wages for working people in the City of St. Louis. We hope to obtain a favorable result in the appellate courts, but will not be able to implement the minimum wage ordinance until the trial court's order is reversed on appeal. 

ST. LOUIS -- After calling for a robust public discussion about how high the minimum wage should be and over what time that increase should happen, Mayor Francis Slay applauds President Lewis Reed and the Board of Aldermen for resuming its meeting to pass legislation today that will phase in raising the minimum wage for thousands of City of St. Louis workers.

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Release 08.28.2015

Under the new legislation, the minimum wage in the City would go up on the following schedule:

  • $8.25 on October 15, 2015
  • $9 on January 1, 2016
  • $10 on January 1, 2017
  • $11 on January 1, 2018

The economic evidence from hundreds of cases in which cities and counties have higher minimum wages than their neighbors is that modest increases in the minimum wage have no discernible impact on jobs. The Mayor's Office met with all stakeholders and did its own homework on the impact a phased-in $11 minimum wage would have in St. Louis and determined that the proposed increases will not cause job loss. Rather, the minimum wage increase is expected to stimulate the local economy by putting more money in people's pockets and driving up consumer spending.

The new legislation also calls for an annual economic impact study, which will allow the City to identify any negative effects the law may have.

"We want people to work hard and not be dependent on government assistance. So, we should reward hard work with increased wages that will then boost the local economy," Mayor Slay said. "It is just not right that a parent working full time for the minimum wage has to raise his or her children in poverty. There is dignity and value in having a job. Dignity is achieved when a single mother has enough money in her pocket to pay for the basic necessities, so that she gets home to her children at a decent hour and helps them with their homework. Dignity is when a family has some money left over to put to the side so that they can grow some equity for a child's future college education, or an emergency medical need. An increase to the minimum wage will help provide that dignity."

"Ideally, the federal government and state government would have addressed this issue by now. But, they haven't. So, we're forced to do so. I do hope that business leaders who were legitimately concerned about us doing this by ourselves will strongly support a statewide increase in the minimum wage. I know I will."

The Missouri General Assembly set an August 28th deadline for cities to be able to get local legislation on the books to enact a higher minimum wage. Next month, the state legislature will consider overriding Governor Nixon's veto of House Bill 722, which would interfere with local decisions on worker wages, employee benefit policies, and limits on plastic bags at grocery stores.

Minimum Wage Law Ordinance 70078

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Mayors James & Slay Call for Statewide Minimum Wage Increase 

Kansas City Mayor Sly James and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay today called for action at the state level on increasing the minimum wage. 

The Secretary of State's office has approved for circulation three statewide initiative petitions to increase Missouri's minimum wage. The Mayors' call to action comes at the end of a summer in which both cities worked to implement local ordinances that would have raised the minimum wage beginning today. They championed pay increases for thousands of their cities' workers as the federal and state government have not addressed the issue. 

"Workers in our cities and across the entire state work at one, two, or sometimes even three jobs, but they still cannot earn enough to provide for themselves and their families," Mayor James said. "This injustice creates a burden on state and city resources and stalls economic activity in Missouri. While we weren't able to implement a local ordinance to raise the minimum wage in Kansas City, my commitment to pursuing this policy change has not wavered." 

Mayor James began the minimum wage debate on March 31 of this year when he called for an increase during the Kansas City State of the City address. Kansas City's City Council has passed an ordinance increase the minimum wage to $13 by 2020, but implementation was halted due to a referendum. Additionally, if House Bill 722 is not overridden, a special election on November 3 will be called for voters to decide on a phased-in minimum wage increase of $15 by 2020.  

Mayor Slay agreed that the time has come for a minimum wage increase. 

"I believe that the arguments for raising the minimum wage in the state's largest cities are also compelling for the entire state," Mayor Slay said. "A living wage rewards work and alleviates taxpayers from the burden generated by employers who pay too little and whose employees must rely on government subsidies to fill the gaps created by the current minimum wage. Not only would a higher minimum wage benefit employers of our cities by attracting the best workforces, but also I believe that a higher statewide minimum wage would help Missouri attract the best workers in the region." 

On August 28, 2015, Mayor Slay signed a bill passed by the Board of Aldermen into law, which phases in an $11 an hour minimum wage increase in the City of St. Louis by 2018. This follows Mayor Slay's response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address in January when the Mayor amended the City's compensation regulation to ensure that all St. Louis City government employees receive a minimum of $10.10 an hour. 

The Missouri General Assembly set an August 28th deadline for cities to be able to get local legislation on the books to enact a higher minimum wage, which is why both leaders pushed to get the wage increased now to help fellow citizens. Next month, the state legislature will consider overriding Governor Nixon's veto of House Bill 722, which would interfere with local decisions on worker wages, employee benefit policies, and limits on plastic bags at grocery stores. 

Both mayors hope that business leaders who were concerned about individual cities enacting higher minimum wages will strongly support a statewide increase in the minimum wage.

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  • Department:
    Office of the Mayor
  • Topic:
    Employment Rights and Regulations

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