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Essential Workers in Florida Win Fight for $15 Battle

November 5, 2020

By Naeisha Rose

The Fight for $15 movement begun in New York City has rolled onto victory in the Sunshine State.

Florida – As the citizens across the country and leaders around the world wait to learn who will become the President of the United States of America for the next four years, laborers in Florida are celebrating their own statewide victory.

The wage for 2.5 million working class people will be raised to $15/hour due to the more than six million Floridians who decided to vote on Amendment 2, which will help fast-food workers, janitors and other essential workers get better pay — slowly over the next several years.

“I’ve been working in fast-food for seven years and I’ve been in the Fight for $15 just as long,” said Alex Harris, a Waffle House worker in Tampa. “Florida has become the eighth state in the United States to adopt $15 as a living wage and the first southern state to adopt $15 an hour as a living wage.”

Harris is proud of the work that has been done by those that protested, went on strike and voted to help get Amendment 2 passed so that workers in the fast-food industry can have a living wage. He is now working towards making this a national movement.

Faith Booker, a fast-food worker at both Burger King and McDonalds in Miami, makes under $15/hr. at both jobs. 

“I’ve been struggling throughout this pandemic,” said Booker. “I have been working with the Fight for $15 and demanding $15 throughout this entire pandemic. By winning there is going to be a brighter future for me and my kids.”

The Amendment 2 passage means that Booker won’t have to worry about providing food for her children or paying bills, and they won’t have to struggle going forward. 

Brenda Williams, a home care worker in Tampa, is grateful to the more than 6.3 million people who voted for the bill. 

“Florida’s essential workers made history by passing Amendment 2,” said Williams in Spanish. “Florida is on a path to a $15 an hour minimum wage. The voters spoke clearly.”

Odeimy Melendres, a janitor at the University School of Medicine in Miami, is a member of 32BJ SEIU, one of the unions that fought to help get this amendment passed. The Fight for $15 began eight years ago in New York City.

“We knocked on approximately 45,000 doors in Florida to make sure this amendment was passed,” said Melendres. “It’s gratifying to know the effort was worth it.”

Many Latinos, women and working mothers will benefit from this bill, according to Melendres. 

“More than 200,000 Floridians will benefit from this bill,” said Melendres. “I’m happy Amendment 2 has passed, now we will have an appropriate salary worthy of our work.”

Joseph Palma, a former airport worker for Miami International Airport, believes Amendment 2 is a good for the country. 

“It is good for the economy, it is good for business,” said Palma. “I feel confident that when I get a job I will be able to pay my bills.”

Alexis Davis, a policy analyst, is with the Florida Policy Institute, an independent public policy research nonprofit dedicated to advancing policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians, according to the organization’s website. The institute helps essential workers and others to achieve policy gains through research, strategic outreach, coalition building, and policy advocacy.

“Amendment 2 is not only great for one in four Floridians who will benefit the increase in the minimum,” said Davis. “This will bring in $575 million in sales tax revenue to the state once it is fully implemented. This will benefit women, Black and Latinx Floridians employees the service sector and immigrants as well, who are represented in these low-wage positions historically.”

Businesses in the state of Florida make billions in revenue from the labor of service workers and it is time those workers paychecks reflected that, according to Davis. 

November 5, 2020

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