Hospitality industry head Carol Dover says minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage
John Horne will chair the board of the influential industry group. Image via FRLA.

She said they're training wages.

Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, is firing back at Orlando attorney John Morgan over his push to put a $15 minimum wage question on the 2020 ballot.

Dover’s association opposes the hike.

Dover blasted Morgan earlier this week over statements he made at Tampa Tiger Bay Friday comparing the state’s current minimum wage to slave wages.

But Dover’s fight is about more than headline-making quips.

“Almost our entire group believes that maybe the current minimum wage is too low, but that $15 an hour is too high,” Dover said.

The current minimum wage is $8.46 an hour. Under Morgan’s ballot initiative, the minimum wage would increase to $10 an hour in 2021 and then raise $1 a year until it reached $15 in 2026.

The end result, Dover said, is a 77 percent increase in the minimum wage.

“Can you imagine if your mortgage went up 77 percent,” Dover mused. “If anything went up that much, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

Raising the minimum wage that high would cause businesses to cut employees’ hours, reduce staff and begin automating positions, Dover said.

And overall, she believes it’s bad for the economy.

An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office this summer found raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would increase wages nationwide by $64 billion, but workers who lose their jobs as a result would lose $20 billion in wages.

Meanwhile, real income for business owners would decrease by $14 billion while consumers would pay $39 billion more for goods and services.

Dover’s criticism to Morgan’s passionate support for raising the minimum wage was met by some on social media with outrage with some arguing opposing the minimum wage increase is the outrageous take, not Morgan’s comments.

But Dover rejects that.

“The minimum wage has never been intended to be a living wage,” she said. “It’s intended to be a training wage or an entry level wage.”

“Imagine paying a 15 or 16 year old $15 an hour,” Dover continued.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association instead views minimum wage jobs as a stepping stone for workers to get into better paying positions both inside and out of the industry.

For those who aren’t college bound, and others who don’t even graduate high school, there are opportunities in both the restaurant and hotel industry for workers to move up in the business through management positions or franchise ownership opportunities, Dover said.

And the group encourages that alternative education and on the job experience.

They offer two vocational programs, ProStart and HTMP/START. The former trains high school kids on restaurant management and culinary arts. The latter trains students for roles in the hotel and motel industry. Both programs are geared toward developing future leaders within the industry. Combined enrollment in the two programs is 32,000.

Dover used herself as an example.

“I stared working in the industry as a teenager,” she said. “I ultimately, at the age of 17, waited tables to put myself through college. So I made minimum wage all the way through my younger years while I was learning.

“We train our employees and then hopefully these people will want to go into bigger jobs and better jobs.”

Dover said she wished Morgan had considered the industry more when he was crafting his proposal.

“I think there is a solution that doesn’t cause our members to cut jobs and go to automation, and that’s where we’re headed,” She said. “It’s pathetic to think that we’re getting ready to go to these employees who think this is a good thing and vote for it and then a month later we have to call them and say I’m sorry your job has been eliminated.”

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].


  • Rebeccah Newholly

    October 3, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    It absolutely is intended to be a minimum living wage. FDR literally said as much when he signed it into law

  • Kofi Hunt

    October 3, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Regardless of what Ms. Dover sees as the kind of jobs people making under $15 an hour make, the fact is that according to studies such as the one spoken about here ( from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Study, 7 of 10 top growing jobs in the US make under $24,000, which isn’t enough to live on this day and age. Building an economy on poverty wages is a recipe for disaster.

    • gary

      October 3, 2019 at 2:48 pm


      You are confused about what country you live in. America is a supply and demand free market. I don’t think there should be a minimum wage at all, it has no place in America.

      If business owners were not required to pay a minimum wage, they would lose leverage in the job market. Workers would have no reference point, and thus gain the upper hand in negotiations. By being able to tell a prospect employee that they will start at known point (minimum wage) the employer has all the power. If you take that away, an honest conversation can occur about what a task should pay.

      • Vincent Corsello

        October 3, 2019 at 5:00 pm

        Really? And tell me when you have “negotiated ” wages with a prospective employer? Do you really think that by removing minimum wage requirements it will give employees leverage? What planet are you on?

        • gary

          October 3, 2019 at 11:06 pm

          Yep! The employee would be in the driver’s seat. Not hard to figure out.

          • Pj

            October 4, 2019 at 10:37 pm

            The employee is not in the driver seat because the employer owns the production.

            You can keep refusing “low ball” offers all you want but eventually you have to eat.

            That’s why they, the employer, has the ultimate power here in the end, and removing a wage floor like Minimum Wage gives that power of determining peoples’ survival even more to employers.

            PS. No such thing, and will never be such a thing as a “free market”.

            The term you want is “Private Enterprise Market”. That’s a more adequate description, and not some emotionally driven buzz word like “free market”.

          • gary

            October 5, 2019 at 6:29 am

            PJ… u are so cute

  • David

    October 11, 2019 at 4:04 am

    If companies can’t afford to pay their employees a rate that allows them to live their life without the threat of homeless then the owners shouldn’t have a company. She also afraid that jobs are gonna be automated. If they can be they should be. Eat the rich.

Comments are closed.


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