A coalition of progressive groups, social justice activists and labor organizations are joining forces to fight for a $15 minimum wage in November.
The combined effort, to be announced Wednesday, will kick off with a series of protests and rallies throughout Labor Day weekend. On Thursday morning, local fast food workers will go on strike and caravan from one Tampa McDonald’s to another.
“This pandemic has shown, clearer than ever, that our system is broken, especially for Black and brown essential workers,” said Gail Rogers, a 60-year old McDonald’s worker in Tampa who is co-leading the coalition. “No essential worker should be making poverty wages, plain and simple.”
On the ballot this November is Amendment 2, a referendum that would raise the minimum wage in Florida from $8.56 to $10 in September of next year. The minimum wage would continue to go up by $1 until it reaches $15 in 2026, and it would increase slightly thereafter each year to keep up the consumer price index.
If it passes, Florida would become the eighth state where the minimum wage will be set at $15 in the near future. It would take approval from 60 percent of voters to become the law here.
The broad, new coalition of groups working together to get this over the finish line includes Fight for $15 and a Union; the Black social justice group Dream Defenders; progressive political organizations like Common Ground and Organize Florida; the Tampa and Pinellas Democratic Socialists of America; domestic worker advocacy organizations WeCount! and the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the labor union SEIU.
Orlando attorney John Morgan led the effort to get the minimum wage referendum on the ballot but he is not affiliated with these organizations.
Opposing a minimum wage increase is the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, which represents the state’s hospitality industry. Since Florida’s primary election ended, the organization has mobilized to defeat the new constitutional amendment, insisting any change in the minimum wage will hurt employers already struggling during this pandemic.
“There isn’t an industry that has taken it on the chin more than Florida hotels and restaurants,” said Carol Dover, the association’s president. “It would be catastrophic.”