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Advocacy Groups Bring 'Fight For $15' To Capitol; NFIB Says Market Could See Wages Rise Organically

Groups gathered in the Florida Capitol, wearing orange, to call for higher minimum wage in the state.
Ryan Dailey

Advocacy organization The Poor People’s Campaign has taken up the cause of calling for a $15 minimum wage. A group advocating for small businesses doesn’t share that sentiment.

The Poor People’s Campaign is a reboot of a Martin Luther King-led initiative from the 1960’s. The organization recently joined forces with Florida’s Fight for $15, holding a rally in the Capitol with about a hundred attending. Fast Food workers like Antwon Dunn, from Tampa, spoke at the event. Dunn says he works at Taco Bell, as a manager, for $10.50 an hour.

“Let me tell you, $10.50 is not a living wage – not when you’ve got kids,” Dunn told the crowd Monday. “I’ve got a one-year-old who is continuously growing out of her clothes.”

Dunn made his case for $15 dollar minimum wage being closer to a livable amount in Florida.

“If a person makes $8.25 to $8.50 an hour, every two weeks you’re looking at – with 80 hours - $575 every two weeks. What is that? Okay, but if we make $15 an hour, we’re looking at over $800 every two weeks,” Dunn said.

Bill Herrle directs Florida’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. He says small business owners don’t support “arbitrary” wage increases. Herrle says there are two “sure-fire” ways to see wages increase – and they have to happen in combination.

“You have to have small business owners experience an increase in business – an increase in purchasing and an increase in customers,” Herrle said. “And at the same time, they have to be experiencing a decrease in their ability to find qualified workers.”

Herrle says the NFIB sees both those conditions in effect now. He believe that will create rising wages organically over time.

The rally was one of many coordinated in state capitals around the nation. The Poor People’s Campaign is billed as a 40-day period of action, each week having a designated theme focused on bringing awareness to poverty in the United States

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.