The University of Missouri currently has an endowment of a $1 billion-plus; but its service employees — who provide maintenance, groundskeeping, custodial and food service — are paid so little they find it necessary to receive food from a campus food pantry to get what their meager wages don't provide.
This is unjust and unnecessary. MU can afford to pay a fair living wage of $15/hour that doesn't require employees to apply for food stamps and accept leftovers from food pantries. That would raise most of them above the poverty line.
These workers are doing everything they're "supposed" to do to support themselves and their families, yet still can't get by on the current minimum wage. Could you support your family on minimum wage?
The good news is that MU has the money. The bad news is MU is afraid to spend it on decent wages.
At St. Francis House of Hospitality for homeless men, I see the victims of predatory capitalism, a system that rewards those who make the rules and exploits those on the bottom.
Many of the men we serve have given up trying to work their way out of poverty because all that is available to them are minimum wage jobs that won't lift them out of poverty, even with soup kitchens and food pantries.
They are often exploited by employers who only give part-time work so they won't have to provide any full-time benefits.
Those in the Missouri legislature who profess to be Christians ought to follow the biblical admonition not to "oppress the poor" (Proverbs 14:31).
Many of our Christian legislators have more allegiance to conservative economic principles than biblical ones where we are urged to create a kingdom "as it is in heaven." A kingdom where widows, orphans, the working poor and the sick "are given according to their need" (Acts 2:44-45).
A $15-per-hour minimum wage is both moral and fair. The leaders of MU and the Missouri State Legislature must take the lead and provide MU workers with $15 per hour.
Steve Jacobs is one of the founders of St. Francis House of Hospitality for homeless men, MU alum and retired psych nurse.