Press Release

Florida Essential Workers Celebrate as State’s Voters Overwhelmingly Approve $15/hr Minimum Wage

For Immediate Release: November 3, 2020
Media Contact:
Tian.Weinberg@berlinrosen.com, 646-701-4356

Decisive Victory for Amendment 2: More than 60% of Floridians Vote to Raise Minimum Wage from $8.56/hr, Lift Pay for 2.5 Million Florida becomes the eighth state nationwide, first in the south to pass $15/hr — putting 36% of U.S. workers on path to $15

FLORIDA —
​In a resounding victory for millions of essential workers in Florida who have put their lives and livelihoods on the line amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida voters today approved a constitutional measure to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15/hr in 2026, becoming the eighth state in the nation to pass a $15 minimum wage. The landmark vote ignited cheers from essential workers with Florida for $15, a broad coalition of statewide labor, racial and economic justice, and grassroots organizations, who went on strikes led by McDonald’s cooks and cashiers, protested with airport and nursing home workers, marched to the polls with returning citizens, and knocked doors to turn out voter across the state to pass Amendment 2 and win higher wages for more than​ ​2.5 million Florida workers​.

SEIU, Florida for All, and​ ​Florida for $15came together to communicate with voters around Amendment 2 through more than 10 million texts, calls and emails and reached more than 40 million voters online. The $3.5 million investment focused primarily on voters who were not likely to turnout this election. Essential workers who delivered the victory for all Floridians added to the choir of celebration at election night watch parties across Florida, as the Fight for $15, once dismissed as “absurdly ambitious” sweeps across the country – delivering more than ​$70 billion in raises for over 24 million workers nationwide since 2012.

Essential workers in 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, 1991 SEIU, Florida Public Service Union/Faculty Forward, and Florida for $15 issued the following reactions: Gail Rogers, a 60-year-old McDonald’s worker in Tampa and​ ​Florida for $15leader who is currently paid $9.50 per hour: ​“Our nationwide movement of fast-food workers brought the fight for $15 to the South and won. Since 2012, Florida fast-food workers have gone on strike more than twenty times to demand higher wages and union rights for all working Floridians. Our efforts were worth it as Florida today became the eighth state to pass a $15 minimum wage. Because of the worker power we built, 2.5 million Floridians will get a raise. It’s time for corporations like McDonald’s and our national leaders to take note and finally bring wages to at least $15/hr for every worker across the country.”

James Hettich, a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home in Southwest Florida and a member of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East:​ “This is a win for every hardworking Floridian, including healthcare workers like me working in our nursing homes during this pandemic caring for sick, elderly patients and their families. Many of us work two full-time jobs or double-shifts to barely pay for the very basics because we’re simply not paid enough to cover our bills, but this is a big step in the right direction. I’m so glad to see Floridians across the state standing together with essential workers so that we can earn a living wage and support our families.”

Odeimy Melendres, 32BJ SEIU and janitor at the University of Miami: ​“Essential workers have been risking our lives going to work throughout the pandemic, keeping families safe, clean and healthy, but many of us barely make enough to survive. 32BJ members knocked on tens of thousands of doors and made even more calls, in order to get the vote out for Amendment 2. Through people power, we defeated the misinformation campaign from greedy corporations who simply don’t want to pay workers a living wage and were able to convince an overwhelming majority that hard work deserves fair pay. This victory makes me feel proud and that our sacrifices and hard work are valued.”

Esther Segura, SEIU 1991 member and nurse at Jackson Health System:​ “Health care and other essential workers have put so much on the line every day during this crisis. Far too many working people in Florida do critical work to keep our communities going but are underpaid and undervalued – often barely making enough to get by. We call them essential workers, and now it’s clear the majority of Florida voters agree that it’s time to pay them the wages they deserve!” Brian “Cricket” Brehm, SEIU-FPSU member and water plant mechanic at the City of St Petersburg: ​“Amendment 2 will bring much needed relief to so many working families that are struggling to make it in an economy that’s rigged against them.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 is a victory for all workers and a step towards economic justice that is so long overdue in our state. I’m so proud of my union, SEIU, for standing up for fair pay against all of the opposition thrown our way from corporations and wealthy donors. This step forward for Floridians is the result of years of organizing, blood, sweat and tears and today the message is clear: Respect us, protect us, and pay us!”

Background on Florida for $15
Florida for $15
​ is a grassroots coalition driven by essential workers in partnership with labor, racial and economic justice organizations. Head of Election Day, frontline workers who have risked their lives amid COVID-19, all for less than $15/hr, and coalition partners engaged voters across the state through digital organizing, texting, phone banking, socially distant organizing events, and more in support of Amendment 2, and racial and economic justice. Organizations in the coalition include the ​Fight for $15 and a Union Florida, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Committee of Interns and Residents, Common Ground, Dream Defenders, Faculty Forward, Florida Immigrant Coalition, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, Pinellas DSA, Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, Progressive Democrats of America, SEIU Florida, Sierra Club Florida, Tampa DSA, WeCount!, West Central Florida Federation of Labor, and Women Vote Florida.

Workers in the national Fight for $15 and a Union movement, have changed the politics around wages in the country, turning a $15 an hour minimum wage from “absurdly ambitious to mainstream” in just a few years, according to the​ ​Washington Post​. The U.S. House of Representatives last year passed the groundbreaking Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage nationwide from $7.25 to $15/hr. The movement has resulted in ​over $70 billion in raises for more than 24 million workers. Today, including Florida workers, 36 percent of American workers are covered by a $15/hr law.

Media contact: press@fightfor15.org

Paid for in-kind by the Service Employees International Union, 1800 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington DC 20036