The “Fight for $15” campaign has officially won the day in St. Petersburg.
The city announced Thursday it will begin paying all city employees $15 an hour. The decision expands on a 2015 City Council vote that raised employee the minimum wage to $15 for all full-time employees and part-time employees with five years of service in the city. As of April 1, the $15 minimum will extend to 211 part-time employees with less than five years on staff, who were previously exempt from the minimum wage ordinance, as well as new hires. It also beats Florida’s goal of a statewide $15 minimum by 2026 that was approved by voters through a 2020 amendment.
“Everyone deserves to earn a living wage whether they’ve been on the job for five years or five days,” St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch said. “St. Petersburg led the way in 2015 to provide a $15 minimum wage and it is time we extend that to all employees, regardless of tenure.”
The news came the same day the City Council approved a long-awaited contract negotiation giving city workers a raise, which includes about five months of retroactive pay. The contract approves a 3% raise for employees represented by the blue- and white-collar bargaining units, along with the professional bargaining unit. The pay will be retroactive to Sept. 27, 2021 and drops an evaluation-based requirement from raise qualifications.
City workers and union representatives have for months pleaded with the city to approve a raise that was supposed to be in effect by October. They said rapidly rising rents were making St. Pete unaffordable to some workers whose jobs require them to be city residents.
Aaron Dietrich represents hundreds of city employees as a delegate for the SEIU’s Public Services Union. He said negotiations previously stalled over a 1% difference that could mean all the difference to city workers.
“That’s thousands of dollars that might mean these workers being able to afford housing in the city that employs them, a requirement we’ve fought for in our collective bargaining agreement to ensure the people who serve our communities are the same ones who live in them,” Dietrich said to the City Council in January. “That has been a principal and a value in our city for so long.”