Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Business

Romano: Nothing Goofy about Disney’s $15 minimum wage

When they redesigned Tomorrowland in the ’90s, the folks at Disney World culled ideas from long-ago science fiction writers to create a retro look ahead. The Future That Never Was, they called it.

Basically, it was a lot of kitsch and coasters with little in common with reality.

Now, all these years later, there is another vision for the future that once seemed too bold and farfetched for tourist-driven Florida. Except this time, Disney will have a hand in the new reality.

Welcome to the $15 minimum wage.

Workers with Disney’s largest union are voting to accept an offer that will gradually raise wages to $13 an hour by next year and then to $15 by the end of 2021.

In a state where the current minimum wage is $8.25, this is not an insignificant moment. Especially for a company with around 70,000 employees in central Florida.

"If I’m working for $8.25 at wherever, and I’m using similar-type skills, then I’m going across the street to Disney World looking for a job that guarantees me higher pay and raises,’’ said Sylvia Allegretto, economist and co-chair at the Center on Wage & Employment Dynamics at the University of California Berkeley, which has a major study on minimum wage coming out today.

"That creates competition for workers, and other businesses are going to have to respond to avoid losing their best workers and getting into problems with turnover.’’

And, quick as a mouse, the conversation may be changing in Florida.

It’s still a long way from the mainstream, but the $15 minimum wage is no longer just a fringe policy idea from progressives. This isn’t the government sticking its nose in private businesses; it’s the free market at work, and it could have a ripple effect throughout the state.

Even before Disney’s deal with workers, attorney John Morgan was toying with the idea of a minimum wage constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot. The preliminary plan would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10 in 2021 with annual $1 increases until reaching $15 in 2026.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the percentage of workers below minimum wage in Florida is second in the nation, which is a nod both to the number of service-industry jobs and our low wages.

For St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, there is a bit of validation in all of this. Kriseman pushed for a $15 minimum wage for city workers by 2020, and has boosted the current rate to $14.25.

"Aside from being the right thing to do for our workers, we thought that it was good business, too,’’ Kriseman said. "So, yeah, it’s nice to see an employer like Disney recognize that. I certainly hope the private business community says, ‘We’ve got to take a look at what Disney is doing here.’?"

It’s not just the business community that should be paying attention.

Florida lawmakers ignored medical marijuana for so long that voters took it upon themselves to pass a constitutional amendment in 2016, and Tallahassee had to scramble to control its rollout.

Politicians could be facing a similar situation with the minimum wage. If they think $15 is too extreme — and that seems to be the popular opinion in the Republican-controlled Capitol — they might want to navigate some middle ground before voters are asked to get involved.

As Disney has proven, this isn’t just a Goofy idea.

Comments
Maximo Marina, long established on a canal off Boca Ciega Bay, completes a multimillion-dollar renovation

Maximo Marina, long established on a canal off Boca Ciega Bay, completes a multimillion-dollar renovation

ST. PETERSBURG — The $25 million Maximo Marina renovation off Boca Ciega Bay is almost complete, but for a few punch list items.Located in the Skyway Marina District on the city’s southern tip, the facility boasts 212 covered wet slips ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago

Hernando Business Digest for Sept. 21

Briefly EMPLOYERS NEEDED FOR JOB FAIR: Pasco-Hernando State College, CareerSource Pasco Hernando, the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and Hernando County Office of Economic Development are seeking employers to participate in the Open for...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco Business Digest for Sept. 21

Pasco Business Digest for Sept. 21

Business digest BrieflyOPEN HOUSE, RIBBON-CUTTING: On Aug. 29, the West Pasco Women’s Wellness & Pregnancy Center, 8125 U.S. 19, Port Richey, celebrated its new facility with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The center provides c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
As Red Tide perseveres, Tampa Bay’s tourism industry feels the sting

As Red Tide perseveres, Tampa Bay’s tourism industry feels the sting

TREASURE ISLAND — For the first time during her 15 years bartending at Caddy’s on the Beach, Amanda Hudson had to help close shop early this past weekend because the smell of dead fish coming from the gulf was too putrid to bare. "We had to shut down...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pasco County Tax Collector warns businesses about Marlin Financial

Pasco County Tax Collector warns businesses about Marlin Financial

The Pasco County Tax Collector’s office is issuing a warning to local auto dealers: Beware of Marlin Financial. The office will begin circulating a letter Thursday to auto dealers it does business urging them to "think long and hard" before interacti...
Updated: 2 hours ago
New Papa John’s ads emphasize ‘this isn’t a single person’s brand’

New Papa John’s ads emphasize ‘this isn’t a single person’s brand’

Associated PressNEW YORK — Papa John’s, which wants to distance itself from founder John Schnatter, is releasing new ads Tuesday that replace him with a diverse group of franchisees. The commercials show several franchisees looking into the camera a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Coca-Cannabis? Coke analyzing cannabis in wellness drinks

Coca-Cannabis? Coke analyzing cannabis in wellness drinks

The Coca-Cola Company said Monday it is "closely watching" the expanding use of a cannabis element in drinks, another sign cannabis and cannabis-infused products are getting more acceptance in mainstream culture and a harder look from long-...
Updated: 5 hours ago
St. Pete condo of Weight Watchers’ Mindy Grossman hits market at nearly $4-million

St. Pete condo of Weight Watchers’ Mindy Grossman hits market at nearly $4-million

ST. PETERSBURG — Mindy Grossman, the former HSN chief who now heads Weight Watchers International, has put her Beach Drive condo on the market at the hefty price of $3.95 million.The three-bedroom, three-and 1/2 bath unit on the 24th floor of Ovation...
Updated: 5 hours ago
St. Petersburg ranks best in Florida for immigrant inclusivity

St. Petersburg ranks best in Florida for immigrant inclusivity

ST. PETERSBURG — A new study singles out St. Petersburg as the top-ranked city in Florida for promoting the economic well-being of immigrants, but Mayor Rick Kriseman thinks more can be done.Kriseman on Monday celebrated the city’s No. 13 ranking nat...
Published: 09/17/18
Mayo and ketchup mixers, rejoice: Bottled ‘Mayochup’ is coming soon

Mayo and ketchup mixers, rejoice: Bottled ‘Mayochup’ is coming soon

Get your french fries ready: Heinz is set to roll out its newest condiment in the United States very soon.The latest addition to the company’s product lineup is Mayochup. It’s comprised of -- you guessed it -- mayonnaise and ketchup. Back in April, H...
Published: 09/17/18