Kansas City, Missouri, may see an initiative to increase the city's minimum wage on its November ballot. A group of civil rights organizations has demanded that their petition go to a vote to raise base hourly pay in the city to $15. In turn, business organizations have condemned the move as "job killing" and want to see wages stay at the state-mandated $7.65 per hour.
Both sides disagree with the City Council’s July 16 vote to raise the base wage to $8.50 per hour starting Aug. 24 and increasing it to $13 per hour by 2020, the Kansas City Star reported.
Led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Kansas City, advocates for the higher wage have successfully collected enough petitions to put the $15 initiative on the ballot, but have not decided yet if it will petition the city attorney, the next step in getting the initiative on a ballot, according to Missouri newspaper Springfield News-Leader.
However, a group known as Missourians for Fair Wages has started its own petition to fight the new wage hikes. The business coalition would prefer to see the wage increase done at the state-level, rather than just for Kansas City. The group, which includes hotel and restaurant owners, said it wanted to prevent the initiative from slowing down the local economy.
“The main goal is to bring high-paying jobs to Missouri,” David Jackson, spokesman for Missourians for Fair Wages, told The Missouri Times. “We believe that the minimum wage discussion is best held at the state level. A fractured minimum wage passed at the local level could hurt the same people we’re trying to help.”
The push for $15 minimum wage has gained momentum across the country. In the city of Los Angeles, measures enacted last month will require incremental hourly increases through the year 2020. The minimum wage in Los Angeles will go from $10.50 an hour in 2016 to $12 in 2017, to $13.25 in 2018, to $14.25 in 2019 and to $15 per hour by 2020. In the subsequent years, this figure would be adjusted to inflation.
Some economists have warned that there could be dire consequences for doubling the federally mandated minimum wage. A new study published by the American Action Forum and Manhattan Institute found that by increasing the minimum wage, more than 6.6 million jobs could be lost.
“If you raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, 55 million workers will see their wages affected," reported the study.