Make us your home page
Instagram

As low-wage jobs gain momentum, so do protests over pay

Fast-food worker LaShonna-Kyrell Delgardo makes $8.30 an hour as the 3-11 p.m. shift leader at a Dunkin' Donuts in Tampa. Look for her early this morning as she joins fellow workers protesting for higher wages outside her shop on E Busch Boulevard.

"I want to go back to school, but I work awkward hours," says Delgardo, 28 and single parent of a 2-year-old daughter. "A raise would mean I would not have to work so many hours, so I could do that."

As national protests by low-wage retail workers swell and join those targeting Walmart, some fast-food workers in Tampa will stage walkouts today. They are part of a 100-city strike and protest day by employees fighting for an hourly fast-food wage of $15 and the right to organize without hassles by employers.

For Delgardo, a bump to $15 would represent an 80 percent increase in pay. That's not likely, especially in low-paying Florida, where wages are stagnant. And thinly represented unions aren't likely to grab greater hold here.

What does Delgardo have to lose? A yearly wage barely topping $17,000 does not go far. Despite a promotion and 85-cent hourly raise, she's stretched just to cover $650 a month for rent. Without a car, she walks to work. When her food stamps run out each month, she scrapes together $100 to cover the rest.

Her certifications from Hillsborough Community College in phlebotomy and as an EKG technician did little to help her find related work in a still-weak job market.

Welcome to the low-wage economy. It has generated plenty of jobs in Florida since the recession. But in the process, it has left many folks more vulnerable and saddled with lower living standards.

In Tampa, workers from at least two fast-food businesses plan to protest their low-wage predicament. After the Dunkin' Donuts gathering captures the attention of early area commuters, a nearby KFC will be the site of a late-afternoon protest.

The national, union-supported movement has grown steadily this year, with fast-food workers at nearly a thousand restaurants in 60 cities — including Tampa — first striking briefly on Aug. 29.

On Black Friday, at least 100 workers and supporters were arrested in eight cities as Walmart workers protested at 1,500 stores nationwide. They called for Walmart to commit to paying workers $25,000 a year, providing full-time work and ending what employees say is illegal retaliation.

Lately, advocates of higher wages cleverly point out that the fast-food industry, by paying so little and offering few benefits, forces workers to rely on government aid — at hefty taxpayer expense.

"The overwhelming share of jobs in the fast-food industry pay low wages that force millions of workers to rely on public assistance in order to afford health care, food and other basic necessities," says a recent report by the National Employment Law Project.

So if you stop for doughnuts or fried chicken and see the protests, give a honk. Or buy them a meal.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@tampabay.com.

As low-wage jobs gain momentum, so do protests over pay 12/04/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 11:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and violated its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Luis Flores, executive chef at Ciccio Restaurant Group, prepares an Impossible Burger at Epicurean Hotel's Food Theatre. Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that will launch on Sept. 27, 2017 in all the Ciccio Restaurant Group locations, except for Fresh Kitchen. "This burger caters to the carnivorous, not just the vegetarians" said Jeff Gigante, co-founder at Ciccio Restaurant Group. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  3. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project

    Health

    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    Construction is underway for the new Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This view is from atop Amalie Arena, where local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the first piece of what will be the new Water Street District. The USF building is expected to open in late 2019. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  4. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home. 
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  5. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]