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Activists March Through Westport In Response To Minimum Wage Petition

Cody Newill
Sharon Al-Uqdah (right) stands with other protestors outside Westport. Missouri Jobs With Justice opposes a challenge to Kansas City's new minimum wage ordinance, which raises wages above state levels.

Activists with Missouri Jobs with Justice protested in Westport Thursday over a challenge to Kansas City's new minimum wage ordinance.

The group Missourians For Fair Wages is a coalition of business groups, including the Missouri Restaurant Association, that oppose the wage hike, and have been collecting petition signatures to put it on the ballot through a referendum.

The Kansas City Council voted 12-1 to pass the ordinance, which would raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour by Aug. 24, and $13 an hour by 2020.

The protestors chanted and walked to the Restaurant Association's Kansas City office, where Jobs With Justice member Sharon Al-Uqdah called out to Restaurant Association President Victor Allred.

"Why do you want to hurt the hard working families of Kansas City?" Al-Uqdah asked through an amplifier. "Remove the referendum and let working people get the raise they deserve."

Judy Ancel also spoke at the rally. She says she views the referendum as another attempt to slow down progress for workers.

"They're just doing stalling tactics to block it from going into effect," Ancel said. "The workers who are going to benefit from the minimum wage [increase] really are the working poor and have trouble paying their bills. The raise is less than a dollar to $8.50, but they need it."

The petition needs to gather 3,400 signatures by Aug. 25 to make it onto a ballot. If it gets the signatures, it will effectively block the wage hike from going into effect until spring 2016.

Meanwhile, another initiative petition from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage. It will also need 3,400 signatures if organizers decide to move forward with it.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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