Rally for extra pay

On Nov. 2, Floridians will vote on Amendment 5 to increase minimum wage $1.

With that in mind, several organizations met on Wednesday at the capital building for a press conference given by state Sen. Anthony “Tony” Hill. Hill, a native of Jacksonville, is the youngest member and first African-American to be inducted into the Florida Labor Hall of Fame.

“We have no worker standards in Florida,” Hill said.

Hill spoke in the courtyard of the capital in front of a bus covered with a dollar bill motif that read “Yes on 5.”

The Members of the Service Employee International Union sat on the stairs behind the old capital building in purple shirts that read “stronger together,” and a $1 bill pinned to their left shoulder.

Edward Timmons, 43, organizer of SEIU, sported a dollar on his chest in support of the press conference. He is based in Atlanta, but said he has traveled across the U.S. in pursuit of equality for all. The company started around the 1920s, and members rallied for the Amendment 5 to help families.

“I think they would use that extra dollar to support their family,” Timmons said.

Timmons said he hopes the people continue work and feeling better about going to work.

“Five dollars is not enough to survive,” Monica Russo, president of SEIU, said.

Russo mentioned 79 percent of minimum wage workers are over 21. The organization is riding a bus to take matters in their own hands.

“An extra dollar will not hurt,” Russo said.

However, the Florida Retail Association, who has joined with the Coalition to Save Florida Jobs, felt differently.

“Amendment 5 will hurt Florida’s economy. It means thousands of jobs will be lost. Amendment 5 will cost 18,000 children their healthcare benefits because they no longer will be eligible for Florida’s KidCare health insurance coverage,” a statement issued by the Coalition said

Other company’s in compliance with the Coalition to Save Florida Jobs are: “The Florida Chamber, Florida Restaurant Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, and Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, Inc.”

The president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Florida Council 79, Jeanette D. Wynn, also spoke at the press conference.

“We can do it and all we’ve got to do is vote,” Wynn, an alumna of FAMU, said. She also stated the majority of people working for minimum wage are women.

Wynn, who has worked in the state system since the 1970s, said she is deeply involved within community affairs. According to the AFSCME’s homepage, “Jeanette D. Wynn is the state’s highest-ranking African-American woman labor leader.”

To address the effect of minimum wage on women Hill pulled a single mother to the microphone named Betty Richardson to share her experience of not having a father in the house and making minimum wage.

“It will help me to meet my basic needs. Say yes to Amendment 5,” Richardson said.

Hill said that the time for a change in the minimum wage has come and that it is necessary to the working class of America.

“The bottom line is that this wage has not been raised in 7 years,” Hill said.

If the amendment is passed, Florida will be the 13th state to have earnings increased.

Contact Anthony Ray Jr. at aj4_21@hotmail.com