KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Minimum wage workers in Kansas City, Missouri, are in line to get a raise, as the City Council on Thursday approved a measure to hike the minimum wage in the city to $13 an hour over the next five years.
The current minimum wage is $7.65 an hour. That will increase to $8.50 an hour starting on August 24th.
The move, approved by a 12-1 vote, was met with celebration by many low-wage earners.
“This was a huge victory for the working people of Kansas City,” said City Council member Jermaine Reed. “This is a moral issue.”
Terrence Wise, 36, who has spent nearly 20 years as a fast-food worker, says that the move towards a “living wage” is news he’s been waiting a long time to hear.
“We know that 15 dollars an hour is the new baseline for cities all across the country,” said Wise. “But right here in the heartland of Kansas City, $13 an hour, which has just been passed, is a great step forward.”
Nursing home worker Cherie Brown agrees, saying that the city should be rewarding the people who take on the hardest tasks.
“The people of Kansas City depend on workers like me to take care of their basic needs, and we do difficult jobs and pride and the knowledge that comes with a high degree of responsibility,” said Brown.
City council member Ed Ford cast the only “no” vote against the measure. He says that these minimum wage jobs are meant for young people rather than career employees.
“Many of these kids will be going off to college. They need to work the summer before they go off to college. They are not worth $13 per hour,” said Ford to a rumble of disapproval from the audience in council chambers. “They are not.”
Reed, whose family worked as janitorial professionals, told FOX 4 that he’s not confident that the battle for a minimum wage increase is over, saying that he and other city leaders fear that the city will be the target of lawsuits based on the city’s identity as a trendsetter in raising wages.
“There’s a lot more work that must be done,” said Reed. “Not only in Kansas City, but in municipalities across this entire country for the federal government to ensure working class people in municipalities like Kansas City are able to make a living wage.”