Miami, Fla. – Last Thursday, state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, and state Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, were joined by dozens of underpaid workers and SEIU leaders at a press conference at the Florida State Capitol to push for an increase to the state's current minimum wage from $8.05 to $15 an hour. Speakers at the event urged all state legislators to support Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 109 and invited them to accept the “Minimum Wage Challenge.”
"I look forward to joining other legislators in the Minimum Wage Challenge so they can understand what it feels like to live on poverty wages in today’s world," said Sen. Bullard, who announced he will take the challenge set to start next Monday. During one week, those taking the challenge will have to live on minimum wage for five days and document their experience on social media showing the hard choices that they're forced to make each day.
Dozens of workers that drove to the Capitol last Thursday from different parts of the state, visited legislators all morning and challenged them to walk in their shoes by living on minimum wage for 5 days. So far, 17 legislators have accepted the Minimum Wage Challenge, including state Representatives Victor Torres, José Javier Rodríguez, Dwight Dudley and Kristen Jacobs; state Senators Dwight Bullard and Jeffrey Clemens with others expected to sign on this week. The full list of legislators taking the challenge is here.
The Minimum Wage Challenge will kick off Monday September 28th with press conferences in Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale and will include Florida legislators, underpaid workers from all industries and community activists who are united in the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. More details about these events will be announced this Thursday.
While Florida’s workers still survive on one of the lowest wages in the country, a minimum wage of $15 an hour is quickly becoming the new standard nationwide as a direct result of the Fight for $15 campaign, launched over two years ago. With Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles already approved the raise for all workers, and New York State recently approved $15 an hour for fast-food workers.
“Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour is needed to help Florida’s hard working families, otherwise they will have little chances to improve their quality of life,” said Representative Torres. “In addition, raising wages has proven to be good for the economy at large. Out of the 25 states that have in any way increased their minimum wage, almost all of them experienced job growth.”
Patricia Walker, a homecare worker from Tampa, and Rochelle Salcedo, a certified nurse assistant at a nursing home in Palm Bay, both expressed their passion for their job combined with the frustration of not receiving a living wage. “I give my clients the love and care they need every day, but I still go home and don’t know how I’m going to be able to take care of my family,” said Walker.
Earlier this month SEIU Florida pledged to exclusively endorse and make contributions to candidates who agree to both take the minimum wage challenge and support the $15 an hour minimum wage bills.
“The fight for $15 is a fight to lift folks out of poverty so they can go back to school, feed their families, pay rent,” said Monica Russo, President of SEIU Florida. “We will rally, march, knock on doors, and do whatever it takes, until Florida’s hardworking families receive the salaries they deserve and every worker has the right to join a union.”
SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees, and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.