Hotel and restaurant trade group ‘deeply offended’ by John Morgan’s ‘slave wages’ comparison

john morgan independent tweet
The group called Morgan's comparison tone deaf.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is firing back at Orlando lawyer John Morgan after comments he made Friday at Tampa Tiger Bay referring to the state’s existing minimum wage as “slave wages.”

“Mr. Morgan has made his position on minimum wage clear by leading the charge to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot next November. While I respectfully and vehemently oppose his position on this issue, I am deeply offended by his remarks at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club on Friday,” FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover said. “By referring to minimum wage as ‘slave labor,’ Mr. Morgan showed us all just how tone-deaf he is and how utterly oblivious he is to a very real problem in our state.”

“His comments likening his fight for a $15/hour minimum wage to the fight of abolitionists who worked to end slavery are an affront to every man and woman who was jailed, beaten and branded for trying to protect the lives of their fellow humans,” she continued.

During his remarks, Morgan implied that Florida’s $8.46 minimum wage is akin to slave labor. Minimum wage earners often have to work several jobs to make ends meet and, even then, often don’t. Low wage earners also rely on social safety net programs like welfare and food stamps, which Morgan likened to taxpayer-subsidized wages for private employers.

“Years ago in the South, they said the economy will not work if we don’t have slaves,” Morgan said, drawing a correlation to people opposed to raising the minimum wage. “They were so adamant about it they went to war over it. They fought each other to own people.”

Morgan went on to say he’s willing to go to war to end “slave wages.”

But Dover didn’t appreciate the dramatic correlation.

“Minimum wage is an important issue facing our state, and the debate should be robust and vigorous, not convoluted with inaccurate and insensitive comparisons to abhorrent crime,” she said.

Dover also said Morgan’s comparison ignores problems with modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

“This heinous crime is real, and there are men, women and children in the United States who are literally enslaved because of human trafficking. Drawing comparisons between their plight and those who work for minimum wage is disgusting, coldhearted and insulting to both groups,” Dover said.

Morgan is spearheading, and bankrolling, a campaign to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Under his proposed constitutional amendment, Florida’s minimum wage would rise to $10 an hour beginning Sept. 20, 2021, and then increase $1 each year until 2026.

His Florida For A Fair Wage initiative is just 20,000 petition signatures short of the 766,200 needed to make the ballot. The group is all but certain to meet that threshold — the deadline isn’t until February.

FRLA, a trade group representing Florida hotels and eateries, opposes the wage hike. The hotel and restaurant industries include some of the state’s highest concentrations of minimum wage earners. According to the Pew Research Center, 55% of minimum wage workers nationwide hold jobs in the restaurant and leisure industry.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Cogent Observer

    September 30, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    As is usually the case with what Mr. Morgan does, he likely used words like this to rabble-rouse. That is, he seeks to further an agenda to have people use his law mill (pardon me, law firm) by championing causes that have an emotional, but not an intellectual attraction. Were he to get over himself and use whatever intellectual and analytical acumen is available to him, perhaps even he could understand that (1) any state-imposed minimum wage hinders and does not foster broader employment, and, (2) to the issue of a $15 minimum wage, many people’s skill levels do not warrant that amount of money. If his claims on television ads are true that he has recovered “billions and billions and billions of dollars,” that suggests that his firm has taken anywhere between 25%-40% of that amount (the range of allowed contingency fees). Therefore, if Mr. Morgan were as wedded to being “for the people” as he and his array of children claim to be, he could easily spread his wealth to many of the people he considers to be subject to “slave wages.”

    • Tena Gruner

      October 1, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      Obviously neither of you have ever worked for minimum wage. before I had kids it was okay but now is a single mom I can’t even make ends me so yes it is slave wages. I know I have to live it.

  • Fred Lickme

    October 1, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Looks like he’s eaten at enough restaurants

  • Joshua Statton

    October 2, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    John Morgan is an F’ing rockstar. Stop reporting BS stories Janelle! Get a life! Do a positive story on someone other than yourself or co-workers for a change. And for gods sake, try interviewing all parties who u decide to report on. Basically, stop being a corrupt scumbag & be a good role model to your kids. They deserve it even if u disagree!

Comments are closed.


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