Minimum Wage Hike Debated

Seven out of ten voters said yes to hiking the minimum wage by a dollar here in Florida, but at a workshop in the state capitol Wednesday the first draft was far friendlier to employers than it was to those who will see a pay hike.

300 hundred thousand people are due for a dollar an hour pay raise on May second, the day that Florida voters picked to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 an hour.

At the state capitol, lawmakers unveiled the first draft of legislation aimed at clarifying the wage hike. The draft contained glaring omissions. Labor lawyers say the draft forces workers to negotiate and puts their jobs in jeopardy.

Ron Myer is a labor law attorney. "If you go to your employer and are fired there is no process in this statute as it is written today to provide redress for that."

Voters approved the payment of attorney’s fees in the amendment, as well as a fine for employers who deliberately fail to pay the higher wage, but neither item was in the draft bill.

Still the committee chairman, Rep. David Simmons of Altamonte Springs, says there the draft was not intended to be employer friendly. "I don’t think its employer friendly, I think its employer fair and I also think that its employee fair."

But for the low wage earners, like Ken Cunningham of Tampa, there was dismay. "They are being sore losers about it, they really don’t want it to, they didn’t want it to go through so now they want to sabotage the spirit of it and we are here to prevent that."

The draft legislation also prohibits class action lawsuits, something the amendment allows.