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The call for an increased minimum wage

On July 24, President Obama spoke in favor of increasing the minimum wage for employees. His call was echoed by employee advocates in Kansas City. Minimum wage laws provide that the federal minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour, which works out to about $15,000 per year for full-time employees. In Missouri, the minimum wage is only slightly higher, at $7.35 per hour.

It's difficult for a person to make ends meet on these amounts. President Obama spoke of the American ideal that a person who works hard is rewarded with fair wages and benefits. Instead, many American workers are earning a minimum wage that, when adjusted for inflation, is less than it was during Ronald Reagan's presidency. As a result, the president has pledged his support for getting the minimum wage increased.

The president is not alone in seeking change. A 'Good Jobs for All" campaign has been launched in Kansas City by labor unions, legal professionals, members of Jobs with Justice and Communities Creating Opportunities, along with retail and fast-food employees. These individuals believe that corporations can afford to pay their workers a living wage. They believe that hard workers should not be receiving poverty wages. It's hoped that workers who stand together can make their voices heard to effect a change. One man, who works 70 hours per week between two jobs, said that he approaches fast food workers on the bus in order to obtain their support.

Federal law requires that employees be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime for hours exceeding 40 in one workweek. If any employer fails to respect those requirements, an employee may be entitled to compensation. A local employment law attorney may be able to help underpaid workers receive the compensation to which they are entitled.

Source: Kansas City Business, "Advocacy grows for low-wage workers", Diane Stafford, July 24, 2013

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