Written by Monica Obradovic
At the Nov. 6 midterm elections, voters approved new legislation that will incrementally raise the minimum wage.
Proposition B proposed a raise to Missouri’s minimum wage to $12 an hour with an annual 85 cent increase until year 2023. The proposition passed with a 62.3 percent “yes” vote, the Associated Press reported.
Alexander Stephan is president of the St. Louis Young Republicans Club and recently graduated from the University of Missouri St. Louis with a degree in economics. He said Proposition B posed dangers to Missouri’s economy.
“They [minimum wage laws] create a price floor of labor,” Stephan said. “If someone has some sort of disability, and they can’t produce what will soon be $12 an hour, they’re not going to be hired.”
According to Stephan, a raised minimum wage would hurt teenagers and college students. Work forces would only hire experienced applicants or people worth higher wages, Stephan said.
Webster political science professor Gwyneth Williams said Proposition B could have both positive and negative effects.
According to Williams, the more money people have, the more they will spend.
President of the Webster University College Democrats John Wallis favored Proposition B despite its controversy.
“I think concerns over Proposition B are really unfounded,” Wallis said. “I think its passage will help millions of Missourians get out of poverty.”
Wallis, a sophmore and secondary education major, said Proposition B could alleviate the financial burdens of many Missourians, especially college students.
“Prob B is definitely going to help students like me who need to pay off their balance,” Wallis said. “College students who need some extra money could work at a fast food restaurant or a grocery store and make a living wage.”
Sophomore Lily Byrd worked as a cashier at McDonalds. The restaurant chain paid Byrd minimum wage for her three years at the business.
Byrd felt that the company did not pay her enough for her work. One customer cussed her out when she told her the price of her food, Byrd said.
“I think it should’ve been increased a long time ago,” Byrd said. “We’re expected to put in maximum effort for minimum pay, plus the conditions are not the greatest.”
McDonald’s employees nationwide pushed to increase the company’s minimum wage to 15 dollars in the past year. Protests sparked in both Kansas City and McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago.
Williams said Proposition B may negatively affect Missouri’s economy, despite its potential benefits.
“People against the minimum wage will argue that it’ll increase unemployment because [employers] won’t be able to pay minimum wage,” Williams said.
Despite increased media coverage of the election, according to Williams, voter turnout among young people remained stagnant in the recent midterms.
National voter turnout for the midterm election reached the highest percentage since the 1970s, according to the New York Times.
Katie Fields is the Campus Election and Engagement Project (CEEP) fellow at Webster. She said everyone should vote, no matter the issue at hand.
Fields, a senior at Webster, said she organized a mock election with Webster Votes, an absentee ballot informational session and a post-election conversation all in the hopes of raising student voting.
In any scenario, Fields said everyone should vote to voice their opinion.
“Why not vote?” Fields said. “If you think these issues don’t affect you, check your privilege, and see how it affects others. I think if you have that voice and you’re choosing not to use it, then don’t complain if things don’t go away and you’re not actively trying to fix it.”