Hundreds of workers, union members and supporters gathered on Tuesday night in downtown Miami to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
The rally was part of the National Day of Action, a nationwide event during which different industry workers marched in protest for higher wages.
In Florida, the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union carried out rallies throughout the day in West Palm Beach, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. The demonstrations were meant to put pressure on lawmakers to co-sponsor two pieces of legislation proposing a minimum-wage increase to $15 an hour.
Florida’s current minimum wage is $8.05, and at the federal level it's $7.25.
“What do we want? Fifteen! When do we want it? Now!” protesters chanted as the march began at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center. They also chanted similar phrases in Spanish and Creole.
Randall Bacon, from Miami-Dade County’s Local 199 Union, says if workers can get $15 an hour, they would have more time to spend at home.
“County workers right now that have two or three jobs are not getting to spend any time with their families is because they don’t have a livable wage.”
Westley Williams works at McDonald’s in Miramar and currently makes $9.25 an hour. He says his current wage is not enough to take care of his mother.
“I’m fighting for a better life and for a better future,” he said. Williams previously worked at Walmart for seven years and was laid off at a time when his pay was $12.75 an hour. “They said that they didn’t have to give me any reason for letting me go.”
Osvaldo Alonso has been working at Walmart for six years. He says raising the minimum wage would mean improving his quality of life. “I have to pay my medical insurance and help my family in Cuba, paying for gas, rent, phone bill, etc. Is not enough for what I earn today.”