Florida Senate cracks down on living wage concept

OPINION AND COMMENT

Editorials and other opinion content provide insights into issues important to our community and are independent of the work of our newsroom reporters.

title=

A bill in the Florida Senate would ban cities and counties from setting living wage standards for their communities.

As a security guard in Miami-Dade County, I risk my life to take care of my neighbors. I go to work every day during a global pandemic, and when transit riders find themselves in danger, my colleagues and I are on the front line to keep them safe. It can be dangerous work, and it takes experience and courage to do it. This is why the county ensures that we are fairly compensated. But now our local government’s ability to pay us fairly is under threat.

As a former US government employee, I remember that cost-of-living wage increases for federal workers always received bipartisan support in Congress. Now, in Miami-Dade County, I see the importance of local government’s ability to set living wages in such an expensive place. Nationally, we face a massive labor shortage, evident in supply chain delays, school closures and rising childcare costs. But in Florida, we now risk facing a similar labor shortage – due to Florida Senate Bill 1124.

As a Republican, I find it unfortunate that the Florida Senate recently introduced this Invoice, which would negate the ability of local governments to set the minimum wage based on the cost of living in their city or county. Miami-Dade residents are seeing the cost of living increase every day. Two-thirds of Miami-Dade renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing. As a state, Florida has seen the the biggest increase in rents in 2021, around 29%.

Limiting the ability of leaders to set wages for their local workforce is incredibly irresponsible. This legislation will negatively affect all Floridians, regardless of their political views. It would be disastrous for local economies and for the ability of local governments to retain the brightest and most dedicated public servants and entrepreneurs.

Even though my colleagues and I love the communities we serve, losing the salaries we depend on isn’t worth the risk we take every day. Stagnant wages will not be enough in this trade, especially in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis. If wages are cut, the county could lose its most experienced security personnel to more affordable towns.

This problem is not about politics, it is about putting public safety first.

The quality of the county’s services will undoubtedly be affected due to the exodus of many talented professionals from its diverse workforce to other parts of the country, where salaries will better reflect the cost of living in those areas. . With the Florida Retirement System (FRS) helping government officials keep their pensions when they move, county employees will compare salaries and cost of living in Miami-Dade to those in other counties with a lower cost of living. , and will leave. Our county governments could be forced into a costly bidding war for skilled workers, and our communities could lose the people who know the unique needs of those communities and how to meet them.

Our communities deserve skilled and experienced workers who understand our local needs. And those of us who bring our skills and experience to these jobs deserve to be fairly compensated for our hard work, at a rate that keeps us in the place we love.

Eric Vergara is a Miami-Dade County security guard.

vergara.jpg
Vergara

Michael A. Bynum