Democratic State Representative José J. Rodriguez, an attorney at Kelley/Uustal, is one of 18 legislators throughout Florida who recently agreed to take the Minimum Wage Challenge set forth by the Service Employees International Union (SEUI). After only two days, he failed the test.
Rodriguez’ story appeared in the Miami New Times® and can be viewed here.
The challenge was this: to live on Florida’s minimum wage, which is currently $8.05 per hour, for five days. At this rate of pay, participants are given only $17 per day – or $85 per week – with which to pay for all expenses, excluding car payments, housing, childcare, and credit card bills.
The enormous difficulty of this task soon proved itself. On the second day of the experiment, Rodriguez was forced to wait more than 30 minutes for a bus to take him to his office. When the bus failed to show up at the time designated in the online schedule, he quickly had to give up and find a ride.
This sobering experience sheds light on the difficulties low-income workers face when transportation resources are limited. For a minimum wage employee, the length of time necessary for the commute probably would have caused them to be late for work, costing them their work reputation as well as their wages. But without a car or income to pay for more costly modes of transportation, like Uber, the only remedy is to either get up earlier. “Either way, the commute takes three times long as it should, and that’s less time with family,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also experienced grocery shopping on a shoestring budget. Together with two employees from a local McDonald’s who earn the minimum wage, he shopped for household staples like eggs, juice, milk, and toilet paper at El Libanes Supermarket in Little Havana.
With only $17 to spend per day, it is easy to wonder how people are able to put food on their tables and still find a way to keep a roof over their heads, especially with rising costs of living.
While this challenge is a symbolic act aimed at raising awareness of the difficulties faced by people working full-time for minimum wage, Rep. Rodriguez is taking an active role in helping to solve this pervasive problem. He and other Democratic lawmakers are encouraging legislation that would nearly double Florida’s minimum wage. Two bills – HB109 and SB6 – call for Florida’s minimum wage to be increased to $15 an hour, as it now is in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Experiencing the difficulty of this exercise has renewed Rodriguez’s fervor in the fight to get this legislation passed.
Employment Law Lawyers in South Florida
Kelley/Uustal is proud of the efforts of Attorney Rodriguez and is committed to doing everything possible to assist clients struggling with unlawful employment practices. If you are struggling with workplace harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, or unpaid wages or overtime, you may be able to take legal action against your employer. You work hard – let us help you fight back against unlawful employment practices and get you the financial compensation you deserve.
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