Florida workers and union members are pushing for a $15 minimum wage. But it may not be an easy feat in the state.
For low-wage workers like Lillian Hall, it’s a struggle to make ends meet.
“I am a single parent of four children, and it’s very hard for me to live off my wages at Taco Bell," Hall said. "I’ve been there two years and I’m still at $8.74.”
She faces tough choices every day and says “I have to decipher, do I feed my children, do I feed myself, do I pay my bills… it’s not enough.”
Florida minimum wage workers currently earn $8.46 per hour. The group Fight for $15 wants to raise this to $15 an hour.
“Workers deserve to be paid a living wage, which is why we must stand and support every effort to raise the minimum wage so Floridians can afford to pay their bills, raise their families, and fulfill the dream of buying their own homes,” Sen. Victor Torres (D-Osceola) said.
The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association was recently involved in a lawsuit over a Miami Beach ordinance setting a $15 minimum wage. Samantha Padgett says raising the minimum wage will cause business owners to seek out other sources of labor.
“For a company to pay that much more for its labor, they’re going to want that much more," Padgett said. "Labor is a very significant cost for them, and if you make it more expensive to hire they might look for more efficient ways to operate. Is there a robot, is there a grill, is there something that can be automated, is there a computer that can do the same thing more efficiently and less expensively?”
The Florida Supreme court ruled the city’s move violated state law, which is why folks like Torres want change.
“When workers earn a fair wage, they rely on less government funded programs and can afford to spend more money on local business," Torres said. "Please join us in supporting the right to increase Florida’s minimum wage and help boost the income of more than three million – yes, three million – of our fellow Floridians.”
Washington State has raised its minimum wage to $13 per hour. A study done by University of Washington economists has shown the raise helped workers who were employed before the raise, as they saw a higher hourly rate and less of a decrease in hours.
The study also found newly employed workers suffered more. Researchers suggest the raise in wages made it less worthwhile for employers to hire and train new employees.
There are two bills that have been introduced in the House and the Senate that would increase the minimum wage by the rate of inflation. Neither has been heard and the issue is likely dead for the year.