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Working Families Vow to Hold Politicians Accountable at the Polls in November for Ignoring the Interests of Everyday Floridians 2/18/16

Dozens of Underpaid Floridians Demand Lawmakers Raise the Minimum Wage to Help Lift 4 Million Working Families Out of Poverty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2016
Contact: Jose Suarez, jose.suarez@1199.org305-340-1085
Jackie de Carvalho, jackie.decarvalho@seiufl.org561-287-2879
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Working Families Vow to Hold Politicians Accountable at the Polls in November for Ignoring the Interests of Everyday Floridians
Dozens of Underpaid Floridians Demand Lawmakers Raise the Minimum Wage to Help Lift 4 Million Working Families Out of Poverty

Tallahassee, Fla. – Two weeks after a new economic study was released revealing the $11.4 billion price tag for low wage jobs, underpaid Floridians flooded a committee hearing on poverty Wednesday to urge lawmakers to hear HB6 and SB109 that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, lifting 4 million working families out of poverty.

Dozens of home care workers, fast-food cooks, nursing home assistants and advocates attended the committee hearing wearing bold t-shirts proclaiming: We Need, Deserve and Demand $15. The underpaid Floridians testified one by one outlining the harsh realities they are faced with every day like choosing between food and medicine, while struggling to make ends meet because of the low wages they earn.

"With my salary, I don’t qualify for government assistance or subsidized healthcare, but I still can't afford covering the daily living expenses to sustain my family,” said certified nursing assistant Kim White, a single mother who has been a home health aide for five years yet she still earns just $10 an hour. “To receive $15 dollars per hour would give me a shot to actually have savings and make plans for the future so I plan to vote this November for candidates who stand with working folks like me."

Floridians across the state have been urging lawmakers for months to consider legislation to raise the minimum wage through lobby visits, rallies and petitions, yet they’re not being heard. The group of underpaid Floridians had no choice but to take over the committee hearing to plead their case.

“I can’t get ahead making minimum wage. I have to pick and choose which bills to pay each month,” said Orlando fast-food cook Clint Cuyler, 25, who earns just $8.25 an hour. “I'm fighting for $15 so I can provide for myself, have a better future and maybe save for a car so I can stop taking the bus, that’s why I’m making my voice heard at the ballot box November.”

Despite the indisputable facts found in the study, Republican lawmakers continue to ignore the demands from constituents to hear legislation that would raise the minimum wage, instead they would rather stand with profitable corporations allowing them to continue to pay poverty wages on the backs of all working Floridians who ultimately pay the price, to the tune of more than $11 billion each year.

"It’s a disgrace that Governor Rick Scott and his allies continue to stand with big business by expanding corporate welfare with a new $1 billion handout paid for by working families instead of advocating for issues that would help struggling Floridians,” said SEIU Florida President Monica Russo. “Elected officials and candidates should be on notice, millions of underpaid Floridians will not forget how their families have been treated during this legislative session and will hold politicians accountable at the polls in November."

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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.