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Energized by Amazon Raises, SEIU Florida Members Rally for $15 Minimum Wage

CONTACT: Ed Gilhuly, Left Communication

Union Highlights the Need for Good Wages In “Vote for Freedom” Platform

MIRAMAR, FL — Energized by the victory of the Fight for $15 movement that pushed Amazon to announce this week that the company will pay its workers at least $15 per hour, members of SEIU Florida, one of the largest unions in the state, rallied with others at events throughout the week to call for a $15 minimum wage as part of their “Vote for Freedom” platform for the 2018 election.

Fight for $15 rallies in Miami and Tampa, and a march by Miami International Airport (MIA) workers highlighted the struggles of low-wage employees trying to support their families.  At MIA, for example, one third of the workers are below the poverty line at one of the biggest economic engines in the region serving airlines that will earn $40 billion this year, according to the Miami Airport Coalition.

“It’s not freedom when you’re grinding two jobs or 80 hours a week and you still can’t pay your bills,” said Monica Russo, president of SEIU Florida, which represents more than 55,000 active and retired health care professionals, public employees, airport workers, adjunct faculty and property service staff in the state. “No matter where you work, everyone deserves a fair, living wage. Our community union is dedicated to lifting up these rights for hardworking Floridians and electing leaders like Andrew Gillum who will truly serve the people.”

SEIU Florida’s electoral platform promoting good wages, access to quality, affordable health care, union and worker rights and affordable housing is backed by a $5 million union investment in get-out-the-vote efforts, communication and other outreach to endorse and support candidates such as Andrew Gillum who have pledged to fight for these critical working-class concerns.

On wages, SEIU Florida’s “Vote for Freedom” platform includes these details:

Good Wages to Support Our Families

Hard-working Floridians are standing up for increased wages that put people over profits. We need to be fairly compensated for the work we do caring for Floridians’ loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes, ensuring that our kids get a good education, and keeping our cities and airports safe, clean and running effectively.

A $15 Minimum Wage that Works for All Floridians

We deserve wages that allow us to afford our most basic needs, including housing, health insurance and child care.

Investment in Workers, Quality Service and Our Communities

Paying good wages helps employers attract and retain the most experienced workers to serve our communities, and improves morale and productivity.When we’re financially secure, we support local businesses and our local economy.

Paid Leave When You’re Sick

Floridians shouldn’t be forced to go to work when we’re sick, or when our sick children need us. Employers should be required to provide paid sick leave.

Retirement Security to Live Out Our Lives with Dignity

The Florida Retirement System and local government pensions must be protected from misguided and unnecessary cuts, and for-profit corporations need to invest in retirement security for their workers.

In Florida, many industries fail to offer workers a living wage or proper benefits.  Even thousands of healthcare workers can’t afford their own health coverage. The average wage for a certified nursing assistant is approximately $11 per hour, according to various employment services, and union surveys show 75 percent of nursing home workers can’t afford the rising cost of health insurance.

The movement toward a minimum hourly wage of $15 just announced by companies such as Amazon is a start, according to SEIU Florida, but there needs to be broader and faster adoption of better wages, working conditions and essential benefits – the elements that come with strong union membership -- for workers in all sectors.

In addition, studies show that higher wages lead to a better overall economy and improved community, as well as enhancing the lives of individual employees and their families.

“Sadly, too many Florida politicians have ignored what is the right and smart thing to do for the working-class and the entire state,” Russo said.  “This November, we need to elect leaders like Andrew Gillum who will deliver fairness and freedom so we all can prosper.”

For more information on SEIU Florida, visit www.seiufl.org.

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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.