Last week, Missouri and our next door neighbor, Arkansas, passed minimum wage initiatives. Arkansas voters approved $11 by 2021, while those in Missouri went with $12 by 2023. It’s time (past time!) for Oklahoma to join the many states that have exceeded the federal rate. BTW, AR’s minimum wage was ALREADY higher than OK’s. (OK has $7.25, which is the federal rate.) There is no longer a rational excuse about regional differences.
Let’s not let this economic justice bandwagon rush along without us!
The campaign for higher minimum wages originated years ago in blue cities like New York and Seattle, but it’s proving pretty popular in Trump country as well.
Voters in both Arkansas and Missouri, two states that went strongly for President Donald Trump in 2016, passed ballot initiatives to increase the state minimum wage during Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Both measures enjoyed overwhelming support, with 68 percent of Arkansas voters and 62 percent of Missouri voters voting in favor.
Minimum wage ballot initiatives have also won handily in red and purple states, such as South Dakota, Nebraska and Arizona, in the past two election cycles.
At least two groups are actively talking about getting the issue on the ballot for voters to decide, but the clock is ticking for a 2020 initiative to happen. Time to stop talking and start organizing!
Our Revolution Oklahoma has been studying the matter for about a year, researching how other states have handled increases through a phased in approach, resulting in up to a $15 minimum over time. Consulting with business owners who would be impacted by the change has been part of the process.
“We are forced to look at a single statewide figure, since our legislature, in its wisdom, in 2014 passed a bill that prevents municipalities from raising local minimums that are more appropriate for the economics of the area,” said Susan McCann, chair of OROK’s Ballot Initiative Committee.
This preventative action was in response to efforts by labor organizations to increase the Oklahoma City rate to $10.10. It may come back to bite the conservatives who backed the bill. Across the nation, when presented with the question, voters have overwhelmingly approved wage increases in both blue and red states.
Photo by Tim O’Conner, shows 2013 demonstration in Oklahoma City before the campaign was shut down by the legislature.