A vote for Amendment 2 is a vote for equal opportunity

Protestors demand higher wages at a rally for increased minimum wage in Florida. Photo courtesy Joe Raedle, Getty Images

This election, voters in the state of Florida will be deciding on Amendment 2. This amendment will decide if the minimum wage in Florida should be raised to $15 per hour. The vote for Amendment 2 should be a unanimous “yes,” from all voters.

Currently, the minimum wage is $8.56. With such a high cost of living across the state, many workers have protested and striked numerous times over the past five years, urging employers to increase their pay to a “liveable wage.”

Per the new constitutional amendment, if approved, the minimum wage would be increased to $10 an hour on Sept. 30, 2021. The minimum wage would, then after, be increased by $1 every year on Sept. 30 until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026.

Not only is a ‘yes’ vote for this bill crucial for employees, it’s needed to close the poverty gap in the state.

According to a living wage calculator formed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the minimum living wage required for a single adult to live in Florida is about $12 an hour. For a single adult with a child, or multiple children, a living wage is double this amount.

An employee working with the current minimum wage set would have to work two jobs just to meet a decent wage to afford basic necessities such as housing, food and gas. For an employee with a family, even working two jobs would still put them below the poverty level.

Workers shouldn’t have to overexert themselves while they’re helping businesses stay afloat. Employees’ financial needs should be a prime concern for all employers and managers.

A higher minimum wage is needed to help workers support themselves without having to work endless amounts of jobs just to make ends meet. Especially for workers with families, the children should be considered.

If families are living paycheck to paycheck, basic things like food, childcare and other costs necessary for grade school become more of a luxury item. In this sense, children don’t have equal opportunities awarded to them, simply because their parents don’t make enough hourly.

Voting for a higher minimum wage would allow many individuals and their families to live on a similar playing field as some salaried employees in areas such as education, healthcare and housing.

In Tallahassee, a higher minimum wage would help out a slew of student employees who struggle to work and fund their own education and living costs.

“As a full-time college student making minimum wage, the cost of living comes close to none,” says TyDazjha Francois, a fourth year psychology student attending Florida A&M University.

Francois is just one of the many student employees working in the restaurant industry. For some of these workers who earn tips on the job, there’s an even lower minimum wage of only $5.54 an hour.

Seeing as tips fluctuate daily, these workers may not receive the standard pay other employees make daily, placing them further below the poverty level.

“For me to pay my bills, I have to work 5 days throughout the week at the age of 21. That’s ridiculous!” Francois said.

Moreover, since the pandemic took over earlier this year, a higher minimum wage is necessary now more than ever.

Many businesses suffered while the state was in quarantine and encouraging individuals to self-isolate. As a result, many consumers stopped spending money. While business owners were distraught at the loss of revenue, employees who work paycheck to paycheck felt this deficit much worse.

Although 2020 has been a year with unrivaled precedents, we never know what is going to happen in the future. If the next big pandemic hits five years from now and the entire world must shut down for months on end, are employees expected to just keep their heads up and hope for the best?

Opposers to this bill, mostly being business owners, claim a raise in minimum wage will destroy the state’s economy, as well as ruin businesses.

The National Restaurant Association and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association were both top donors to a committee that opposes the bill, according to Ballotpedia.com.

FRLA CEO, Carol Dover, said, “An increase like this would have disastrous impacts on businesses and individuals alike. Business owners will be forced to find solutions to control costs… The most obvious solutions include reducing the number of employees, reducing the number of hours remaining employees work and seeking labor alternatives like automation.”

The amendment does note on the ballot that a raise in minimum wage may result in an increase in taxes and/or a loss of government services.

Still, a higher minimum wage just might help the economy, since people spend what they have, causing an increase in consumer demand and stimulating business across the state.

Though it is unknown how higher taxes would affect lower income families, the minimum wage should be raised simply because employees should feel cared for and supported by their employers. When workers feel cared for, they tend to be happier.

This, of course, leads to a boost in business since employees are happy to be at work.

Working shouldn’t have to be a miserable experience. Wages should be increased to give workers more time with their families and more time to themselves.