TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — There’s hope for minimum wage workers across the country to get paid more as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
President-elect Joe Biden pledged in a speech on Thursday to increase the national minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of his coronavirus relief plan. The president-elect cited Florida as an example that it can be done, though it could be harder on the national level.
“Increase minimum wage to $15. People tell me it’s going to be hard to pass. Florida passed it, as divided as that state is, Florida just passed it,” he said.
President-elect Biden’s efforts come as millions of people are depending on unemployment, federal stimulus checks, and foodbanks amid the ongoing pandemic, especially minority communities which have been hit the hardest.
“We cannot let people go hungry. We cannot let people get evicted,” said Biden.
The announcement was another win for prominent Florida attorney John Morgan of Morgan and Morgan. In 2020, he led a $5.2 million campaign that helped pass a proposal on the Florida general election ballot asking voters to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.
“There’s a very deep desperation. You can’t make it on $8.26 an hour,” Morgan told 8 On Your Side in October.
Business owners in Florida are seeing it as another hit. Descarte Valnor owns a 36T cleaning company in Tampa that employs four people. He says the proposed hike will instantly reduce profit margins and could hurt more than help employees.
“Staff may have to have certain hours cutback or their position be eliminated completely,” Valnor said.
For now, Valnor is staying optimistic because the pandemic has actually boosted his business.
“We just have to adjust accordingly as to what the market is seeing,” said Valnor.
The national minimum wage hasn’t been increased from $7.25 an hour since 2009.