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After Prop. A Defeat, Town Hall Set to Discuss What’s Next

Fast food workers are among those asking for an increase in wages. (Ikhlasul Amal/flickr)
Fast food workers are among those asking for an increase in wages. (Ikhlasul Amal/flickr)
August 16, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Local and state leaders will join citizens groups and unions today to establish ways to build on the momentum gained after the defeat of Proposition A.

A town hall meeting at Oppenstein Brothers Park in Kansas City will discuss how to increase wages to at least $15 an hour for low-wage workers. Jessica Podhola, director of government affairs with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said the overwhelming defeat of the proposition that would have made Missouri a "right-to-work" state and weakened unions is proof that the public understands the value of paying people a living wage.

"It wasn't just union members that voted Proposition A down. Missourians understand that when you have strong labor unions, you have a strong and vibrant middle class,” Podhola said. “The next step for workers will be to build on the defeat of Proposition A."

The round table at today's town hall includes Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and other leaders. They'll join fast food and low-wage workers in the discussion. Beyond the topic of improved wages, Podhola said they're working with groups to address environmental, education and other policies.

Some political analysts are predicting a political shift in Missouri from red to blue after such a large defeat that reached across party lines. Podhola said they've built a broad coalition across the spectrum over pockets of issues that are important to regular folks.

"When our volunteers knocked on doors, when I knocked on doors, I didn't ask voters if they were a democrat, if they were a Republican. I talked to them about Proposition A,” she said. “And I think that we have a real opportunity in November. "

According to the Economic Policy Institute, gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 would lift pay for 41 million workers - nearly 30 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - MO