JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.– According to a recent release, the federal minimum wage has been frozen at $7.25 an hour since 2009, and several grassroots organizations are determined to change that, and are focusing on seven swing states, including Missouri, which they say are key in this upcoming election.
A recent poll by Public Policy Polling found seven out of ten voters in these states want to see the minimum wage increase. Paul Sonn with the National Employment Law Project Action Fund says those surveyed also say they will back candidates who support raising the minimum wage.
“It found in all of those states where there are Republican incumbent senators that have been opposing raising the minimum wage, when voters learn of their positions, the incumbents lose several points of support,” said Sonn. ” And in Arizona, Missouri and North Carolina, it flips the races on their heads.”
The key race in Missouri is between Republican incumbent Senator Roy Blunt and Democrat Jason Kander. In this latest poll, Kander had support from 43 percent of voters while Blunt has 47 percent, and 10 percent are undecided.
Sonn says the country was in the same type of situation ten years ago when members of Congress blocked action on the minimum wage.
“Then a group of senators ran, challenging incumbents on the minimum wage. Those are senators like Claire McCaskill in Missouri and John Tester in Montana, and they beat incumbents by highlighting the incumbents’ opposition to the minimum wage and took control of the Senate and helped break the log jam.”
Low-wage workers are chiming in as well. Jimmy Plant works in fast food in St. Louis and says basic things like rent, utilities and food are nearly impossible to pay for at minimum wage.
“Yeah, it’s bad,” he says. “I can barely afford anything, especially after taxes. So much of my paycheck is gone.”
Forty-five percent of Missouri voters say they strongly support candidates who want to increase the minimum wage, and nearly four in ten want it to go up each year until it reaches 15 dollars an hour.