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Group turns in signatures to put minimum wage hike, paid sick leave on Missouri ballot


An initiative petition campaign that seeks to raise Missouri’s minimum wage delivered over 210,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office Wednesday afternoon — nearly double the amount needed to make the statewide ballot.

It is the first of five initiative petitions the Secretary of State’s office expects to deliver signatures this week.

Petitioners need at least 107,246 signatures to make the ballot. A spokesperson for the Secretary of State said the office expects to complete the verification process around Aug. 8.

If approved by voters, the petition would raise the state’s minimum wage to $13.75 beginning in January 2025 and $15 in 2026, with annual cost-of-living increases after that. It also seeks to set the minimum paid sick leave to one hour per 30 hours worked, and paid sick leave would extend to caring for family members.

Marieta Ortiz, a restaurant worker from Kansas City who helped gather signatures, said during a rally at the Secretary of State’s office in Jefferson City that this petition would benefit her as a mom of three, with a fourth child due this summer.

“I’ve spent multiple hours in the hospital losing pay over my sick kid,” she said. “As an expecting mom again, I’m going to automatically choose my kids no matter what.”

The petition’s organizers, Missourians for Healthy Families and Fair Wages, rallied inside the Secretary of State’s office building after turning in boxes of signatures. Speakers said paid sick leave was just as important as a $15 minimum wage.

Alejandro Gallardo, a food-service worker from Columbia who gathered signatures, said he has to weigh the risks when he begins feeling sick. He needs to get paid, he said, but he doesn’t want to put himself and others at risk.

“It is a constant stress, a constant anxiety,” Gallardo said during the rally. “People come into work sick all the time because they have no choice.”

DeMarco Davidson, executive director of Metropolitan Congregations United, said Wednesday that the initiative is part of a historical movement to secure better wages.

“Today is the accumulation of years, years and years of people organizing and building power together to bring us here to this point,” he said.

The minimum wage is currently $12.30, a product of Proposition B in 2018 which raised the minimum wage from $7.85 to $12 in five years with cost-of-living adjustments thereafter. The 2018 initiative won over 62.3% of voters.

Before that, voters approved a minimum-wage hike in 2006, which raised the floor to $6.50 or the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. It was passed with nearly 75% of the vote that year.