Angie Nixon blasts Jeff Brandes proposal to allow businesses to pay workers sub-minimum wage
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Angie Nixon
'Republicans need to stop trying to help their corporate donors undermine what Florida voters demanded.'

Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon is not happy with a bill Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes filed Wednesday to allow businesses to pay new employees less than minimum wage for a limited time.

Florida’s hourly minimum wage increased Thursday to $10, marking the first of several annual pay hikes voters approved in November that will see the lower limit of per-hour pay rise to $15 by 2026.

On the eve of that increase, however, Brandes, of St. Petersburg, filed a joint resolution (SJR 382) that would let employers pay any worker a “minimum training wage” for up to six months. The wage would be based either on a federal temporary training wage — $4.25 per hour for people under 20 or 75% of the minimum wage — or what is recommended by a state-commissioned study that would be done once every three years.

Floridians should be celebrating that some 2.5 million workers throughout the state will be able to earn roughly $400 per week, allowing them to better pay for costs of living, Nixon said — not having to again fight for something they already decided.

“Republicans insist on using this week, not to inform their constituents of this important change, but to allow large corporations to pay workers less than the minimum wage for six months, with no guarantee they’ll be hired full-time afterwards,” Nixon said in a written statement. “Republicans need to stop trying to help their corporate donors undermine what Florida voters demanded in our constitution and let workers earn the living wage they deserve.”

Brandes made a similar effort last Legislative Session to add another, lower pay tier for certain workers. But where that failed item envisioned a sub-minimum-wage for prisoners, felons, people younger than 21 and other “hard to hire” workers, his latest effort includes no specification as to whom could be paid the “training” wage.

The idea behind the new, refined bill, he said, is to create a bridge between workers who don’t yet have the skills needed for jobs they want and employers who need workers but wouldn’t normally hire those unskilled workers at full pay.

He told Florida Politics 30 other states in the U.S. now allow companies to pay some type of temporary training wage.

“And it’s all voluntary — voluntary for the employer to offer it and voluntary for the employee to take it,” he said.

Research into whether raising the minimum wage reduces employment has resulted in mixed findings. A 2021 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that increasing the cost of employing low-wage workers would lead some employers to employ fewer workers than they would have under a lower minimum wage. “However, for certain workers or in certain circumstances, employment could increase,” CBO personnel wrote.

Brandes characterized the training wage option as a “tool that should be available to the Legislature if necessary,” though he doubts it would be used while the economy is in good shape.

“The simple truth is, even these temporary training wage jobs aren’t widely available (now),” he said. “When the job market is very weak, they may want to implement it. Today, even if you implement a temporary training wage, you’re not going to attract employees at below $10 an hour to virtually any job.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Ocean Joe

    October 1, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Who is surprised that a gerrymandered legislature controlled by the Chamber of Commerce would try to undermine yet another constitutional amendment designed to help the bottom economic half of Florida’s people?
    When you don’t pay a living wage, government (taxpayers) ends up taking up the slack through social programs. Socialism (subsidizing business) is apparently OK if it benefits big business. If you don’t like all the hand-outs, let those who profit pay their own way.

  • Ron Ogden

    October 1, 2021 at 9:36 am

    Better to just get the government the hell out of the labor marketplace entirely. All it does is waste tax money chasing its tail through a forest of conflicting statistics full of political wolves who hunger to see themselves on TV at election time. With all the people flooding in from the North, pay rates are not going to rise too much. Besides, the average rate of pay is about $14.00 for telephoners, and there are thousands of jobs available. Two people in a household each working full time at $14 is darn near $60K. You can support a household on $60,000 a year, maybe not on the beach, but you can do it.

    • Alex

      October 1, 2021 at 11:59 am

      So sorry the voters passed a constitutional amendment disagreeing with your “invisible hand(job)” economics.

      Ain’t Democracy wonderful?

      • Ron Ogden

        October 1, 2021 at 1:16 pm

        “Ain’t Democracy wonderful?”
        Alex says to the Captain: “The passengers voted for me tell you to turn the plane towards those mountains.”
        Captain: “Those mountains are high! Why the hell would they do that?”
        Alex: “Because I told them the scenery was better over there, and that nothing could go wrong ’cause I’m an expert pilot myself.”
        Yeah, wonderful.

Comments are closed.


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