Rallies Today for a $15 Minimum Wage in Florida

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Today, fast-food, airport, and health-care workers and citizens will take to the streets in Fort Lauderdale to demand action from state legislators and presidential candidates to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and most recently New York have passed their $15-per-hour minimums for certain workers. The Broward County Commission rally taking place on Andrews Avenue is just one of numerous events being held as part of a National Day of Action. Events in more than 500 cities are planned, including West Palm Beach, Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota, and Miami. Workers at a McDonald's at 345 NE Second Ave. in Miami were planning to strike. 

According to a new United Way report,  Floridians in 2015 require a wage of $15 an hour just to provide the basics for their families. Yet as it stands, 45 percent — or 3.2 million — of all households in this state don't make this figure, which would pay for basic housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation. 

“Making $15 an hour for me would be a tremendous help in my life,” Laura Rollins says. "The extra money would mean I could pay an extra bill instead of living paycheck to paycheck. I’m not doing this just for me but so my grandchildren won’t have to struggle so much." The 63-year-old McDonald’s worker makes $8.45 an hour after six years of service. "And you better believe I'll be voting in 2016 on this issue and will be encouraging my friends and family to do the same," she says. 

Florida has a long way to go. The minimum wage was raised 12 cents this past January because of a 2004 state amendment adjusting the rate for inflation. The wage improvement brought Florida to a minimum of $8.05 an hour. Tipped employees like waiters and bartenders saw their minimum wage upped to $5.03. 

The wage hike made it the first time Florida's minimum wage will top $8 an hour. Florida joined 14 other states whose minimum wage is more than $8 an hour.The federal minimum wage is just $7.25.

Recently, after years of rallies and protests, contracted airline workers' wages were hiked up to an $11.68 wage (with benefits) and $13.20 (without) when the Broward County Commission voted to include them in the County’s Living Wage Ordinance. Still, many airport workers are joining the fight for a $15 minimum wage for all. 

Carline Morancy, 23, is a cabin cleaner for Eulen America at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and can't afford to finish college. "I would like to get a degree in general education, but I owe the government and the university," she says. "The money I make is just not enough to even start paying off these loans. I'm active in this movement because no matter what color you are, language you speak, or where you come from, companies need to acknowledge us and treat us like human beings." 

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