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$15 minimum wage proposal faces business backlash

This article was written by David Nicklaus of the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Michael Meuser is proud of the fact that he provides good jobs, with benefits, in the city of St. Louis.

Most of those jobs, though, pay less than $15 an hour. Meuser says he might be forced to move his company if the Board of Aldermen adopts a $15 minimum wage favored by Mayor Francis Slay.

“It would be a killer for my business,” said Meuser, owner of Pogue Label & Screen, a manufacturer in the Patch neighborhood on the far south side. “We would have a very tough time competing in our market and paying that wage.”

Pogue has about 35 employees, and Meuser says many were unemployed before he hired them. Most earn from $9 to $12 an hour — well above the statewide minimum of $7.65 — and they get health insurance, a 401(k) plan, paid vacation and sick leave.

The minimum-wage bill would apply to any businesses with more than 15 employees and $500,000 in annual sales. It would raise the wage floor to $10 an hour this summer and $15 on Jan. 1, 2020.

Meuser’s competitors in other states don’t pay that much, so he can’t raise prices without losing customers. He moved Pogue to its current location from Pagedale a decade ago, but says he’d leave the city if he has to.



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