Democratic Alderman of the 21st Ward in the City of St. Louis and Black Lives Matter supporter, Antonio French, came out strong against minimum wage increases in his city in an editorial for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
French says his opposition to St. Louis’ proposed plan to raise the minimum wage to $11 by 2018 stems from a fear that the increase in pay could send the few remaining jobs out of the city and into greater St. Louis County.
“For years, the City of St. Louis has competed with our neighbors in St. Louis County for population and jobs. And for years, we’ve been getting our butts kicked,” French wrote. “Just since 1970, almost half our population has left the city and moved to the county. If the City of St. Louis raises its minimum wage 50 percent higher than just down the road in St. Louis County, that will only speed up that migration.”
“In my neighborhood, when I look at the young guys, black males, unemployment is close to 50 percent,” French told the Washington Post. “For me, my main interest is to get people to work.”
Indeed, according to the Department of Labor, one in two minimum wage workers are between the ages of 16 to 24-years-old.
French, who voted against the wage increase, says he at least wants to see the City of St. Louis conduct an audit, similar to the one in Los Angeles, to see exactly how a minimum wage hike might affect the city’s already struggling local job market before meaningful changes are made.
“I’m just trying to spread the pot out as much as possible so people can have more money in their pockets,” French says. “And this hurts our efforts a little bit.”