Its a Movement

Delhi  This is what we’re talking about! We join with the editors of the Springfield News-Leader:

OUR VOICE

Wage hike sends clearest message on Election Day

Working class deserves attention.

It’s the economy, stupid. Never was the advice of a former adviser to Bill Clinton so clear as it was in Missouri on Election Day.

Voters spoke with an almost unheard-of mandate when they overwhelmingly approved an increase to the minimum wage by a more than three-to-one margin Tuesday. When more than 75 percent of the state approves of something during a big turnout, it’s not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. It’s not even a landslide or a mandate.

It’s a movement. Five other states also approved minimum wage hikes Tuesday: Ohio, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Arizona. Missouri’s working class has spoken. Even in conservative Greene County, more than 70 percent of voters said yes to an increased minimum wage. Perhaps it’s because wages here are even more depressed than they are in other parts of the state. Perhaps it’s because while U.S. productivity has increased 33 percent in the past 10 years, wages haven’t kept pace.

Voters didn’t approve the minimum wage hike Tuesday because they expected an immediate increase themselves. They did it because they want to send a message to lawmakers that it’s time to start passing laws that balance out business interests with the needs of the working class. They did it because they’re sick and tired of legislators coming up with reasons to not pass the minimum wage rather than just doing it.

The vote might have been what propelled Democrat Claire McCaskill to her victory in the race for U.S. Senate. McCaskill came out strongly in favor of the minimum wage, and she repeatedly hammered her opponent, Republican Jim Talent, for refusing to take a position on the proposal.

Now it’s incumbent upon McCaskill and the new Democratic majority (at least in the House) to pass meaningful minimum wage increases at the federal level, where they more properly belong.

But Missouri lawmakers should take note.

The landslide victory for Proposition B sends a message that the working class wants to be – and will be – heard.

As lawmakers begin to talk about changes to the Medicaid system, and plans for reducing health care costs, we suggest they keep that 75 percent victory in mind. Frankly, we believe it’s time for small businesses and labor to work hand in hand to force Congress and state legislatures to do something about out-of-control health care costs, and we believe the minimum wage votes might be the impetus they need. Small businesses worried about increased costs can take out the pain of a wage hike if constantly increasing health care costs can somehow subside.

During elections, lawmakers love to talk about such platitudes as “helping working families.” Well, the working families of Missouri have spoken loudly. They want a raise. Is anybody listening?

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