In These Times - November 13, 2020
“Biden’s campaign, and most Democratic statewide campaigns before him in the past 20 years, have never laid out a coherent platform to working class voters here [in Florida],” says Orlando DSA organizer and Florida for $15 coalition partner Grayson Lanza. “Being the party of ‘also not socialist’ and nothing else is clearly not working.”
On November 3, Florida’s politically diverse electorate showed resounding support for Amendment 2, an initiative to gradually raise the state minimum wage from $8.56 an hour to $15 by 2026. This makes Florida the eighth state nationwide, and the first state in the South, to get on track towards a $15 minimum wage.
This victory contrasts sharply with the loss of Biden in the state, as well as significant losses for the state Democratic Party. The activists behind Amendment 2 say their campaign offers lessons for how progressive ideas can win the day by prioritizing improving the material conditions of workers, and speak directly to the hardship that people face.
“Far too many working people in Florida do critical work to keep our communities going but are underpaid and undervalued, often barely making enough to get by,” said Esther Segura, a Jackson Health System nurse and union member with the Florida for $15 coalition, a network of labor, racial, economic justice and grassroots organizations statewide. “We call them essential workers, and now it’s clear the majority of Florida voters agree that it’s time to pay them the wages they deserve!”
A victory for workers
Amendment 2, known as the Fair Wage Initiative, faced a difficult terrain, including opposition from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, and the anti-Amendment 2 PAC Save Florida Jobs—which warned voters of disastrous effects on Florida’s small business owners and economic recovery. Yet, the initiative secured 60.8% approval among Florida voters, just barely meeting the 60% threshold needed to pass.
Under Amendment 2, the wage floor will increase to $10 next September and rise in $1 increments each year until reaching $15 on September 30, 2026. For tipped employees, wages will increase from $5.54 to $11.98 by 2026. Orlando attorney and millionaire John Morgan, who bankrolled Florida’s ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, poured millions of dollars into Florida’s Amendment 2 campaign, characterizing it as “a vote of morality and compassion.”
Roughly 2.5 million workers are expected to see a pay increase next September, including 38% of women of color in the workforce, according to a report from the left-leaning Florida Policy Institute. Black and Latinx women — who in the United States earn 63 cents and 55 cents on the white, male dollar respectively — are expected to see the greatest gains from Florida’s wage bump. ...
Read full report at In These Times