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Low-Wage Workers Fast At Kansas City's City Hall In Support Of Minimum Wage Increase

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Cody Newill
/
KCUR
Low-wage workers and activists with Stand Up KC gathered at City Hall to start a week-long fast in support of an ordinance that would raise the minimum wage.

Activists and low-wage workers gathered on the steps of the Kansas City's City Hall Thursday to start what they say will be a week-long fast in support of a minimum-wage increase.

Members of Stand Up KC crowded the steps shortly after dawn to support an ordinance that would raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

Councilman Jermaine Reed introduced the ordinance in March, and many Kansas Citians say they support raising the minimum wage. Some small business owners and groups, such as the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Kansas City, have come out against the measure, saying it will cause more harm than good.

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Credit Cody Newill / KCUR
/
KCUR
Latoya Caldwell (left) talks with other Stand Up members at City Hall.

The Rev. Donna Simon of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church spoke at the beginning of the fast. For her, increasing the minimum wage is common sense.

"I know we have a lot of city council folks with a heart for the people in this city who aren't able to get by," Simon said.

"These are folks who take what they make and put it back in our local economy. So any money that goes to them is going to come immediately back into the Kansas City economy."

Latoya Caldwell of Stand Up KC works at Wendy's making $7.70 an hour. A single mother of 5, Caldwell says a higher wage would help her take care of necessities like utilities and groceries.

"I work six days a week, so I'm not at home with my children [often]," Caldwell said. "I'm barely paying the bills right now, and my water is off. So it's like, I'm not even making enough to keep water on for my children."

The City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance on July 16, and Stand Up KC plans on camping outside City Hall until then. If council members don't pass an increase by Aug. 28, a bill on Gov. Jay Nixon's desk could prevent municipalities from increasing the minimum wage above state levels.