Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Business

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 [email protected]

Comments
Career Q&A: Nut allergy is a serious workplace concern

Career Q&A: Nut allergy is a serious workplace concern

Q: My manager has recently started eating nuts at her desk, which is located right next to mine. Unfortunately, I have a serious nut allergy, so any contact with them could produce a life-threatening reaction. Even foods which contain tiny pieces of ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

TAMPA — More than two decades after the last bunch arrived on shore, bananas are back at Tampa’s port. More than 3,900 pallets of Chiquita bananas from Ecuador arrived last week at the new Port Logistics Refrigerated Services warehouse.It was the fir...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Guess co-founder steps aside after allegations from Kate Upton

Guess co-founder steps aside after allegations from Kate Upton

Associated PressNEW YORK — Guess Inc. says that co-founder Paul Marciano will give up his day-to-day responsibilities at the clothing company until a sexual misconduct investigation is completed. Model and actress Kate Upton told Time magazine earlie...
Published: 02/20/18
Grocery retailer Albertsons to buy drugstore chain Rite Aid

Grocery retailer Albertsons to buy drugstore chain Rite Aid

Associated PressThe privately held owner of Safeway, Vons and other grocery brands is plunging deeper into the pharmacy business with a deal to buy Rite Aid, the nation’s third-largest drugstore chain. Albertsons Companies is offering either a share ...
Published: 02/20/18
Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

After national headlines and a public outcry over the deaths of 14 people at a Broward County nursing home after Hurricane Irma, nursing homes across the state are working to comply with new rules requiring them to have back-up power.But the process ...
Published: 02/20/18
Yoshi — car maintenance that comes to you — launches in Tampa Bay

Yoshi — car maintenance that comes to you — launches in Tampa Bay

A California-based company that promises to bring limited on-site car maintenance directly to you — from an oil change to a fill-up — has picked Tampa Bay as its next pit stop."Anything that your car needs, we’re going to bring to you," said Nick Ale...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Business Digest for Feb. 23

Business digestEventsCHAMBER RIBBON-CUTTINGS: The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce will have two ribbon-cuttings in the coming week:• Access Health Care Physicians/Dr. Janice Rodriguez, 5290 Applegate Drive, Spring Hill, 10 a.m. Feb. 23. C...
Published: 02/20/18

Pasco Business Digest for Feb. 23

Business digestBrieflyLOCAL COMMUNITY RECOGNIZED: CHUY’S RESTAURANT TO OPEN: Chuy’s, the Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant, will open its first Tampa Bay area location this spring near Cypress Creek Town Center in Wesley Chapel. The restaurant at 25750...
Published: 02/20/18
Steve Wozniak charms USF crowd: ‘The human or the technology — what’s more important?’

Steve Wozniak charms USF crowd: ‘The human or the technology — what’s more important?’

TAMPA — Steve Wozniak, the inventor of the Apple personal computer, is the tech genius who sounds less like an engineer, more like a philosopher.Startups? They can be a lot of fun — if started up for the right reason."The purpose should never be, thi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Epilogue: Tourism community remembers Paradise founder Cedar Hames

Epilogue: Tourism community remembers Paradise founder Cedar Hames

When Cedar Hames spoke, you listened.He was a natural storyteller, always dressed sharp to match his wit and natural elegance. He grew a two-person business in St. Petersburg into a leading tourism, advertising and marketing agency over an esteemed 3...
Published: 02/19/18
Updated: 02/20/18