Orlando lawyer John Morgan has announced the formal launch of the campaign to push for passage of a new constitutional amendment raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Morgan is backing the political committee Florida for a Fair Wage, which is behind the proposed amendment. The group has already spent months working to acquire signatures to place the effort on the ballot. But they’re now shifting into the gear of trying to win over the public.
“There is no doubt in my mind that is an uphill battle,” Morgan said in an email to supporters.
“But just like there were hundreds of thousands of families with sick children or parents that needed medical marijuana, there are hundreds of thousands of Floridians earning the minimum wage that cannot afford to live in Florida. We must fight so that all Floridians can have the dignity of earning a fair wage for a hard day’s work.”
“I’m homeless and I have a job. How is that possible?” added Monique Ford, who works in the maintenance industry.
“I’m just one of many Floridians who are struggling to raise a family on the minimum wage. We all deserve fair wages for our hard work.”
Florida’s minimum wage is currently $8.46 per hour. That’s more than a dollar above the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour.
The jump to $15 per hour wouldn’t happen immediately. The amendment would initially raise it to $10 per hour starting in 2021. The minimum wage would then go up by $1 per hour each year until it hit $15 an hour in 2026.
Starting in 2027, the minimum wage would then rise in connection with inflation rates.
The measure needs at least 766,200 signatures to appear on the 2020 ballot. Morgan says the group is about 200,000 petitions short as of now.
Democratic consultant Ben Pollara, who is working to push the amendment, tweeted Monday that more than 1 million signatures have been collected. However, those signatures must still be verified, meaning the group may still have more work to do to meet the minimum number.
Monday also saw the announcement that Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ would be endorsing the amendment.
“SEIU 32BJ is committed to working with our members to pass the Fair Wage Amendment so we can ensure all Floridians can have the dignity of earning a living wage,” said Helene O’Brien, the group’s Florida Director.
“There are over 200,000 Floridians earning minimum wage. Many of them — like Monique Ford — simply cannot sustain a family on those wages.”
If the amendment does qualify to appear on the 2020 ballot, it would need 60 percent support from Floridians to go into effect. Early polling has shown mixed messages as to whether it will earn that 60 percent support.