By DOROTHY HARDEE
For years, there has been a national debate over whether to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and in November, Floridians will be able to cast their ballot on the issue. Established in 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), FLSA not only determined a minimum wage to ensure employees would have a fair wage as well as decent quality of life but also, prohibited child labor and mandated the 40-hour workweek. It was also supposed to ensure regular increases to ensure the lowest-paid workers could benefit improving their standard of living.
In 2015, David Cooper with The Economic Policy Institute addressed the fact that adjustments have been infrequent and inadequate eroding buying power, making “the value of the federal minimum wage in 2014, 24 percent below its peak value in 1968.” The decline meant that employees had to work longer hours to achieve a standard of living considered the bare minimum almost half a century ago. He went on to say that “raising the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020 (the goal in 2015) would restore its value to a level that ensures full-time work is a means to escape poverty and would provide tens of millions of America’s lowest paid workers with a small yet long overdue improvement in their standard of living”.
Fast forward to 2020 and a pandemic situation. Our frontline workers (20 percent of which are doctors and nurses) are risking their lives during COVID. However, the other 80 percent are low paid, undervalued essential workers such as housekeepers in acute nursing facilities, maintenance, dietary, nursing assistants, patient care techs, administration, and others. The median pay is $13.48 an hour, well short of a living wage. In fact, 20 percent of care workers live in poverty and more than 40 percent rely on some type of public assistance.
Florida last voted on a minimum wage ballot measure in 2004. Voters approved Florida Amendment 5 approving a $6.15 per hour minimum wage set to increase each year on changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W). Ballotpedia shared that, as of 2020, seven states have passed a $15 minimum wage bill, effective incrementally. If Florida approves Amendment 2, it will become the first state to increase the minimum wage through a ballot measure, implementing the highest minimum wage rate of any ballot measure as of 2020.
The passage of Amendment 2 will incrementally raise the minimum wage reaching $15 per hour in 2026. Starting September 20, 2027, the state would have an annual adjustment to the state minimum wage based on increases to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Florida For a Fair Wage is leading the campaign to support the Amendment sharing that “The living wage is the minimum cost that covers the basic needs of an individual and family without government assistance.”
However, opponents to the Amendment including The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association consider the increase disastrous for businesses and individuals alike. Business owners will have to find solutions to control costs. Solutions may include reducing employees, hours and seeking automation as an alternative to labor. They suggest that the measure would create a 75 percent salary increase that would suffocate small businesses.
Florida Today detailed that the current minimum wage in Florida is $8.56 per hour, less than $1,400 per month or $17,600 a year. A livable wage in Brevard County, for a household with two working adults and two children is $15.57 per hour and $16.14 in Florida based on the Living Wage Calculator. Today’s low-skill workers earn comparatively less per hour than their counterparts 50 years ago, despite economic growth, according to Florida for a Fair Wage. Taxpayers cover the bill for low wages. Nearly half of those on the Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, as well the free school lunch program is living in low wage working families.
Economists are unable to agree on the impact of a higher minimum wage. Different studies reach different conclusions. The University of Washington found in 2017 that as wages increased, hours worked decreased along with pay. However, a follow-up study concluded it was not the case for all workers and those with experience earned more. Another study by the University of California concluded that wage hikes have not led to job losses.
Given the information, how do you feel Amendment 2 would impact your practice or small business? Dr. Colin Bartoe (Functional Neurology Chiropractic Center) said, “A $15 an hour minimum wage would affect us, but not as much as larger companies with many minimum wage employees. We are a smaller office with employees who are paid competitively and above minimum wage. We would want to maintain the financial incentive above minimum wage for our employees, however, that may mean a reduction in hours based on the available budget for payroll until growth can be achieved.”
Join us for the next East Orlando Chamber Healthcare Council Collaborative Virtual Meet & Greet Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 8:00 AM. The East Orlando Chamber Healthcare Council Collaborative is focused on the entire landscape with special attention to offering focused peer-to-peer networking to increase referral sources. During our breakout we want to hear your thoughts on Amendment 2 and the impact on your business. Join us to meet your neighboring physicians, learn more about the Healthcare Collaborative and how the EOCC is helping grow your practice through referrals, community outreach and new opportunities with increased revenue potential. If you are a physician or healthcare professional, register today. RSVP is requested.
Want to know how else the Chamber can work with you to elevate your business? Let us meet to discuss your business objectives and how the EOCC helps drive results making you a long-term member of one of the oldest established chambers in Central Florida.
As we reach half a year of the COVID-19 nightmare, many businesses are teetering on the brink, trying to decide which expenditures make sense to continue. So, you ask yourself why you should consider membership in the East Orlando Chamber. As businesses are looking at ways to save money, they also seek ways to retain and attract employees. Not only does the chamber offer networking opportunities and great cost-saving benefits, but it now provides a direct primary care plan and health benefits program, with a group rate with pricing individuals would find hard to beat.
The chamber partnered with Joe Filice, president of Avalon Insurance Services, to provide members some of the most unique benefits around. In fact, this move makes our organization the first chamber in the state to offer an affordable package for any size business.
Have we piqued your interest? Give us a call to find out more at (407) 277-5951 or visit our website at eocc.org. The East Orlando Chamber of Commerce everywhere East of I-4.
Dorothy Hardee is the administrator of the East Orlando Chamber of Commerce.
Thursday, October 8, 2020
8:00 – 9:00 AM
Powered by Powernet
Free to Healthcare professionals
2724 N Hiawassee Road, Ste. 100
Orlando, FL 32818
Monday, October 12, 2020
10:00 – 11:00 AM
12301 Lake Underhill Road, Ste. 245
Orlando, FL 32828
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
8:30 – 10:00 AM
Registration required – Hybrid Event
12193 E Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32826
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
5:00 – 7:00 PM
$22 for EOCC Members | $32 for Non-members
Includes one-round of golf + PDQ 3-piece meal & drink
Friday, October 16, 2020
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Island Wing Company UCF
4100 N Alafaya Trail, #107
Orlando, FL 32826
RSVP required for this “Dutch Treat”
Featuring Avani Desai, President Schellman & Company, LLC
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
The Pavilion at Avalon Park
13401 Tanja King Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32828
Registration Required: Hybrid Event