Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Get a job' man who asked Rep. C.W. Bill Young about minimum wage is self-employed

ST. PETERSBURG — The man who was told "Get a job" by U.S. Rep C.W. Bill Young says he would like an apology and a chance to talk with the congressman about raising the hourly minimum wage to $10.

But Andrew "Pepe" Kovanis, 31, also acknowledged on Friday that such a law wouldn't affect him directly because he is self-employed.

Kovanis created Internet buzz when he stopped Young after a July 4 speech to ask if he'd support raising the minimum wage.

"How about getting a job," Young told him. "Why do you want that benefit? Get a job."

"I have a job," Kovanis told him, "but it's not enough to get by on."

Kovanis appeared at a news conference Friday and acknowledged that when he said "I have a job," he was referring to the $8.50 per hour he pays himself in a new business he started called Edible Gardens.

Asked later if it was misleading for him to complain about the low wages he pays himself, Kovanis said no, because he previously worked for $8.50 per hour at a health food store. Kovanis, who said he has a psychology degree from the University of South Florida, said he has worked minimum wage jobs most of his life.

Kovanis said he has opened a booth at the Oldsmar Flea Market for his business, which specializes in helping people set up their own organic gardens. "Sad to say, I can only afford to pay myself $8.50 an hour," he said.

But he thinks he might earn more if the minimum wage went up and people had more spending money. In Florida, the minimum wage is $7.67 per hour.

During the news conference, Kovanis said he was "hurt" by what he considered Young's dismissive response. "I definitely would like an apology to not just myself but to low-wage workers that he's insulted," he said.

He also said he would like to meet with Young and discuss the proposal.

So would fellow activist Bill Hurley, who also spoke at the news conference and said he has been trying for months to meet with Young on the wage issue.

In response, Young issued a statement criticizing "professional" protestors who "do not tell you that I have supported minimum wage increases in the past." He said business owners tell him such an increase "would cause many of them to reduce their workforce, meaning more unemployment."

The Florida Consumer Action Network helped organize Friday's news conference, which was held outside a Sam's Club under construction on 34th Street N in St. Petersburg.

FCAN, Hurley and Kovanis said the event was not designed to support any candidates running against Young, the longest-serving member of the U.S. House.

Andrew “Pepe” Kovanis addresses the crowd Friday at a news conference in St. Petersburg. Kovanis says that he’d like an apology from U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

Curtis Krueger | Times

Andrew “Pepe” Kovanis addresses the crowd Friday at a news conference in St. Petersburg. Kovanis says that he’d like an apology from U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

'Get a job' man who asked Rep. C.W. Bill Young about minimum wage is self-employed 07/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 13, 2012 11:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]