St. Louis Post Dispatch: Messenger: Messenger: St. Louis business owners get behind pitch for higher wages in Missouri

By Tony Messenger
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug 24, 2018

Growing up in the steel town of Granite City, Steve Crider’s career path seemed set. He was a machinist right out of high school, like his dad and his uncles and even his grandmother. ... Christmas of 1999 changed things. Crider got a home brewing kit. His life path took a curve.

Nineteen years later, his 2nd Shift Brewing, tucked into an industrial area south of Manchester Avenue on The Hill, is part of the hopping craft beer scene in St. Louis.

The company’s success is about more than the fact that when it comes to hops, Crider is a mad scientist — try the Brewligans. It is tied to a decision he and his wife made early on, when the brewery got its start in Missouri River country, in tiny New Haven.

“We didn’t hire our first employees until we knew we could pay them what we wanted to pay them,” says Libby, Crider’s wife.

It’s that philosophy that attracted the small-business owners to support Proposition B, the minimum wage hike that will be on Missouri’s ballot in November. The initiative would raise the minimum wage in the state — currently set at $7.85 an hour — to $12 an hour by 2023. Supporters say it will improve the state’s economy by giving many workers more money in their pockets, which will improve spending power. ...

“Why wouldn’t you pay somebody a living salary and treat your people well?” he says. “It’s that simple.”

It’s a philosophy shared by Brian Hardesty, who owns Guerilla Street Food, which operates a location in Crider’s brewery. Seven years ago Hardesty started his business with one food truck and big plans. Like Crider, he was committed to the philosophy that he wouldn’t grow at the expense of paying his employees a decent wage. ... “It was just the right thing to do. We have people who have been around since Day One. A decent part of that is because they make good money.” ...

“If you do the math on just what it takes for somebody to get a one-bedroom apartment, minimum wage doesn’t cut it,” Hardesty says.

... He already pays his employees at least $12 an hour. He’s grown to four locations and a food truck with 26 employees.

Neither Crider nor Hardesty consider themselves activists, but they’ve signed on to the Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage group that is advocating for passage of Proposition B. More than [375] businesses across the state are joining the push for passage. ...

As businessmen, Hardesty and Crider know a higher wage is good for their bottom lines. ...

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Copyright 2018 St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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