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Kansas City workers demand higher wages and affordable housing in talks with the Royals

Low-wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage Tuesday in New York City as part of what organizers called a National Day of Action.
Spencer Platt
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Stand Up KC, a coalition of fast-food, retail and other low-wage workers around Kansas City who advocate for better pay and conditions. The group proposed a Community Benefits agreement to protect workers' rights.

The Kansas City Royals hope to build a new downtown ballpark and entertainment district. Community residents say they should have input and establish an agreement to protect future workers.

Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman has said a new downtown stadium and entertainment district could create 2,200 on-site jobs. The project would cost roughly $2 billion.

Members of StandUp KC, a coalition of retail, fast food and low wage workers, have attended listening sessions held by the Royals to gather community input. During the second listening session, the organization proposed a community benefits agreement to ensure low-wage workers are included in the stadium’s benefits.

“If they're going to build a $2 billion new entertainment district and call it a place to live, work and play, then we have to be able to live there, that means having affordable housing around in the new district,” said Terrance Wise, a member of Stand Up KC. “We have to be able to work there, that means to make a livable wage while we're working there, and then play. That means after I work and pay my bills, I can afford to actually be entertained in this district.”

No site for the stadium has been selected, but Bill Thompson, a member of Stand Up KC and a Burger King cook for the past 10 years, said he’s still hopeful the community benefits agreement will be implemented.

“They were slow at first. They didn't know quite how to take the agreement, but the channels of communication are definitely open,” Thompson said. “In the last two meetings, they acknowledged our movement was there. That was pretty cool, because our voices are being heard.”

Both Wise and Thompson haven't been able to afford to attend a Kansas City Royals game for over ten years. Wise said he believes Royals owner John Sherman can leave a lasting legacy in Kansas City. He said the project could really change what Kansas City looks like and could be beneficial for everyone, not just the wealthy.

  • Terrance Wise, member of Stand Up KC
  • Bill Thompson, a member of Stand Up KC
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As an assistant producer on Up To Date, my goal is to amplify voices of people who serve as pioneers in their respective fields while shedding light on issues that affect underserved communities. I produce daily conversations to uplift and inspire the people of the Kansas City area to make the world a better place. You can reach me at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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