Eater: Can the Midterm Elections Actually Fix Broken Restaurant Wages?

By Brenna Houck
Eater, Oct 25, 2018

Entering the feverish final weeks leading up to the November midterm elections, just about every candidate and measure feels reduced to a tribal partisan battle. Yet, one issue seems to increasingly be crossing party lines: minimum wage. This fall, voters in two states — Missouri and Arkansas — will decide whether or not to raise their respective state minimum wages. ...

In the Missouri fight, organizers have rallied the support of more than 450 local businesses, including outspoken companies from the food and beverage industry: 4 Hands Brewing Co. in St. Louis, the Rieger in Kansas City, Bambino’s Cafe in Springfield, and Mokaska Coffee Company in St. Joseph.

Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president for the non-partisan group Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage, says there’s a “strong business and economic case for raising the state’s minimum wage.” Business leaders, Barron-Menza says, see higher wages as an opportunity to increase consumer spending in the state and reduce employee turnover, a notorious problem in the hospitality industry.

In the restaurant industry, advocates also believe that gradually raising the minimum wage will boost productivity, improve customer service, and help level the the playing field between companies that don’t offer living wages and those that do. “If [businesses] are already voluntarily going above the minimum wage and trying to pay a more livable wage, but they’re subsidizing their low-paying competitors through the taxpayer-funded social safety net, they’re paying twice,” Barron-Menza says. “It’s bad for business when folks aren’t making enough to make ends meet.” ...

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