Orlando lawyer John Morgan on Monday formally launched his campaign to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.
In an email message to supporters, Morgan says his personal and financial support for placing the minimum-wage amendment on next year’s ballot is similar to his successful constitutional amendment drive to allow medical marijuana in Florida. More than 70 percent of the voters endorsed the medical-marijuana amendment in 2016.
“There is no doubt in my mind that is an uphill battle,” Morgan said in his email. “But just like there were hundreds of thousands of families with sick children or parents that needed medical marijuana, there are hundreds of thousands of Floridians earning the minimum wage that cannot afford to live in Florida. We must fight so that all Floridians can have the dignity of earning a fair wage for a hard day’s work.”
A major union, the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, is backing Morgan’s “Florida for a Fair Wage” campaign.
Helene O’Brien, the union’s state director, says the amendment is way to “ensure all Floridians can have the dignity of earning a living wage.” She cites the example of Monique Ford, who works as a cleaner for a building-maintenance company but struggles financially.
“I’m homeless and I have a job. How is that possible?” Ford said in a statement. “I’m just one of many Floridians who are struggling to raise a family on the minimum wage. We all deserve fair wages for our hard work.”
If approved by 60 percent of the voters, the amendment would increase Florida’s current $8.46-an-hour minimum wage to $10 in 2021. Then the hourly rate would rise by $1 a year until reaching $15 in 2026. In subsequent years, the minimum wage would rise based on an inflation index.
The Florida for Fair Wage campaign has been collecting voter signatures for some time. As of Monday, it has 363,308 verified signatures, according to the state Division of Elections. In order to qualify for the ballot, 766,200 validated signatures must be collected by Feb. 1.
The Florida Phoenix previously reported on the host of constitutional amendments vying for a place on the 2020 ballot.