Florida’s Low-Wage Workers Need and Deserve a Raise!

FLIC Votes
3 min readOct 30, 2020

Jeffrey Mitchell, President South Florida AFL-CIO

American workers banded together to demand higher wages beginning with the Boston ship carpenters in 1675.

With the forming of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886, the labor movement promoted the idea of a general “living wage” which would enable all workers, including workers not in a union, to support a family, participate in public life, and maintain an “American Standard of Living.”

In the depths of the 1930s depression, both unemployed and union workers mobilized to successfully support the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which established the first national minimum wage at $.025 per hour. From that point on, America’s unions working with community allies have applied pressure to local, state, and federal governments to raise the minimum wage as high as possible.

The unions of the South Florida AFL-CIO, Catalyst Miami, Legal Services of Greater Miami and other members of the Community Coalition for a Living Wage which was launched in 1997 in Miami, organized the successful campaign for the passage of a Miami-Dade County Living Wage Ordinance in 1999. The first of its kind in the South.

Today, the labor movement unequivocally supports the Fight for $15 — a broad range of community groups and unions — united to reverse the struggle to make the minimum wage truly a living wage.

Stagnant incomes are the crisis of our time! Thanks to the productivity of America’s workers, the U.S. economy is nearly twice as large per capita as it was in 1980 — but most families have nothing to show for it. Corporate profits as a share of our national income are at an all-time high, while wages are at a 65-year low.

Raising the minimum wage is one of the best ways to lift incomes and grow our consumer-driven economy, But in the past 40 years, the federal minimum wage — stuck at $7.25 since 2009 — has lost 30 percent of its value.

Frustrated with inaction at the federal level, the states have moved to raise the wage floor. 26 states and Washington, D.C. have changed their minimum wage laws since 2014, according to the Economic Policy Institute. States that will increase to $15 an hour include New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California as well as Washington, D.C.

The current minimum wage in Florida is $8.56 per hour — nowhere near a living wage. Florida’s low wage workers are overdue for a raise!

This November every Floridian will have the opportunity to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by voting YES on Amendment 2. This raise would benefit nearly 2.5 million hard-working Floridians and keep them out of poverty.

Voting for Amendment 2, a constitutional ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15, is good for workers, good for business and good for the economy.

Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending without adding to state and federal budget deficits.

Boosting pay puts money into the hands of working moms, dads, and grandparents which would in turn help grow our economy. With more income, they buy homes, cars, and support small businesses in their neighborhoods and cities.

This is our chance to make $15 per hour a reality for ALL low-wage workers.

The South Florida labor movement calls on all Floridians to join us to support and vote for Amendment 2 because it will make a huge difference right now for Florida’s lowest-paid workers and their families.

No one should have to work two or three jobs just to survive, and have to worry day in and day out how they will feed their families. Let’s not allow Florida’s low-wage workers to keep on falling further behind.

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FLIC Votes

FLIC Votes is a 501C4 non-partisan organization that advocates for immigrant rights in the state of Florida.