We have talked about the Missouri minimum wage for months—no joke. The reason was that back in November of 2006, the voters of the Show Me State had passed a new Missouri minimum wage increase, bringing the rate from its past level of $5.15 per hour to a new level of $6.50 per hour. The new law also linked the Missouri minimum wage to the inflation index, thereby making it so the rate would increase in 2008 and beyond based on the Consumer Price Index in Missouri. Workers and labor groups in the state celebrated, and employers in the state got themselves new updated Missouri minimum wage posters.
But the issue did not stop there. Next came an issue with the way the new Missouri minimum wage law treated the tipped employee minimum wage. It did not directly seem to address the tipped employee minimum wage. So the state department of labor provided advice to employers with tipped employees—pay them 50 percent of the federal minimum wage, or $2.13 per hour. This caused labor groups to protest, and then a national labor law lawyers group published a warning that the department of labor’s recommendations might be wrong and might be opening Missouri employers to future wage and hour lawsuits from their tipped employees.
That is when the governor of the state stepped in, Gov. Matt Blunt, and he stated his final say on the issue—that the Missouri tipped minimum wage should be 50 percent of the current Missouri minimum wage—that is $3.25 per hour. In effect, the governor was disagreeing with his own administration, an important move that then changed the way, right then and there, that employers paid their tipped employees. Currently, the case in still up in the air, as some employers filed a lawsuit against the state department of labor. The case is meant to protect employers from those wage and hour lawsuits that I just mentioned—as well as force the department of labor to finally judge what exactly the Missouri tipped employee minimum wage should be.
As if those were not enough issues surrounding the Missouri minimum wage, there are more. The main one was the issue over the overtime exemption for fire fighters and police officers. Fire fighters, police officers, and other first responders tend to work odd and long shifts—sometimes from 12 to 24 hours at a time. And thus under the old Missouri minimum wage law they had a special overtime exemption, meaning there were special rules to determine if and when they got overtime, different than the standard 40 hours in a week, or 8 hours in a day, guidelines.
In the new Missouri minimum wage law, however, those rules were not included. The standard overtime rules applied to fire fighters and police officers, and this is costing their employers—cities and towns throughout the state—millions in extra salary. These employers, and even the fire fighters and police officers themselves, have been lobbying for the state legislature to fix the Missouri minimum wage to reinstate that special overtime provision.
And that brings me to the whole point of this blog post—this special fix passed in the House, but Republicans in the Senate would only pass it if a certain compromise was reached. They would pass the Missouri minimum wage fix if the Democrats and the governor agreed to remove the $3.25 per hour tipped employee minimum wage, as well as take out the provision in the law that attaches the Missouri minimum wage to inflation. No deal could be reached. And the legislative session ended this past Friday. Word is now the only chance for a deal to be worked is if the governor calls a special legislative session.
Last 10 posts by Mark
- North Carolina Federal Minimum Wage Alert - June 11th, 2007
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- New Jersey Federal Minimum Wage Alert - June 10th, 2007
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- New York Family Leave Law Leaving? - June 10th, 2007
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