It’s time to take the Fight for $15 to the streets!

Nearly 64 million hardworking Americans make less than $15 an hour. That’s just not right – and on April 14, we’re standing together in Orlando to yell ‘enough’. Are you with us? We’re rallying to show that we support $15 and union rights for all working people. Fast-food workers will go on strike in 300 cities, including Orlando.

The workers’ protests, timed to hit just before Tax Day, will zero in on McDonald’s, highlighting how the world’s second-largest employer and the industry leader in the fast food and service economies is driving a race to the bottom that is undercutting wages across the economy and resulting in nearly 64 million workers being paid less than $15.

ACLC supporters are driving down in a rented van, meeting at the new Labor Coalition office. Please message Sheila Payne (sheilapayne56@hotmail.com) if you can join us.


Join us at the Civic Media Center (433 S. Main St.) on Weds, April 13th for this film screening.  This event is free and open to the public, however donations at the door are accepted.  You can view a trailer for the film here.

DREAM ON investigates the perilous state of the American Dream after decades of rising income inequality and declining economic mobility. In an epic road trip, political comedian John Fugelsang retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville, whose study of our young country in 1831 came to define America as a place where anyone, of any background, could climb the ladder of economic opportunity. Following in the Frenchman’s footsteps, Fugelsang asks whether the optimistic spirit of the American Dream that Tocqueville popularized is alive and well in the twenty-first century, or whether George Carlin was right when he famously quipped, “It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

Compared to people from countries where class boundaries are cemented at birth, we cling to the belief that America offers unfettered upward mobility to anyone willing to work hard and play by the rules. This conviction that anyone can get ahead in the world became known as the American Dream and has inspired countless generations of Americans to seek a better standard of living for their children. Yet, in recent years the venerable American Dream has become an empty promise for increasing numbers of Americans. Millions of middle class Americans are now unable to maintain the standard of living that they took for granted growing up, and more low-income families than ever before are unable to lift themselves out of poverty. As countless Americans struggle with diminished prospects for the future, our core beliefs about the value of work, the inevitability of progress, the fairness of the system, and America’s standing in the world are being shaken. Reviving the American Dream has now become one of the most critical challenges facing our nation.

By revisiting the places Tocqueville wrote about in 1831 and capturing the stories of a diverse group of Americans struggling to support their families, DREAM ON puts an intimate human face on the endangered American Dream. This timely documentary features stories of hard-working people trapped in poverty; senior citizens who have lost their pensions; blue collar workers whose jobs have disappeared; homeowners fighting foreclosure; once prosperous families struggling with hunger and homelessness; fast food workers fighting for a living wage; non-violent drug offenders in prison for decades; undocumented immigrants fighting deportation; low-income communities struggling with poverty-related disease; rust belt cities recovering from deindustrialization; educators trying to reform our failing public schools; and social entrepreneurs designing new models to reduce intergenerational poverty.

To add some sorely needed levity and political irony, John Fugelsang’s reflections on his Tocqueville odyssey are captured in a stand-up comedy monologue woven throughout the documentary. Fugelsang was the host of America’s Funniest Home Videos and has appeared on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, HBO, and NPR. Recently, Fugelsang was the host of Current TV’s daily show, Viewpoint, where he analyzed the news and facilitated conversations about current affairs. Currently, he hosts a daily political comedy program called “Tell Me Everything” on the new SiriusXM Insight Channel. As a comedian, actor, writer, talk show host, and pundit, Fugelsang’s eclectic background allows him to bring equal doses of wit and wisdom to our search for the increasingly elusive American Dream.

DREAM ON is produced and directed by Roger Weisberg, whose 31 previous documentaries have won over a hundred and fifty awards including Emmy, duPont, and Peabody awards, as well as two Academy Award nominations. DREAM ON builds on Weisberg’s extensive body of work and represents the culmination of almost four decades of documenting the struggles, aspirations, and achievements of disadvantaged Americans.

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Please join us for this month’s membership meeting, 6:30pm on Tuesday, Feb. 23rd, where we’ll be accepting nominations for our Board, ratifying some changes in our bylaws, and accepting our budget for 2016.  We’ll also discuss potential plans for a May Day celebration this year and check in with our Living Wage campaign to learn how we can help score a victory for Alachua County workers.  Please note that this month’s meeting will take place at a new location, the Mennonite Church, 1236 NW 18th Ave. in Gainesville.

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In 2014, we re-organized as the Alachua County Labor Coalition to expand our access to people and organizations committed to the rights of working people.  Since then, we have seen an inspiring boost in new members and have added 10 member organizations to our coalition.

This has led to an infusion of new people, goals, and ideas into our work and into our leadership, with great benefit to the organization and to our campaigns.  As we plan future actions, we will need more involvement in our Board and in our Just Health Care and Living Wage committees.

In February 2016, nominations will be accepted for officers and representatives to the Board.  This is a great opportunity to shape policy and strategy for the ACLC, and we encourage input and nominations from all members.

Positions include: Co-Chair (two positions), Secretary, Treasurer, & Union Liaison & Just Health Care Liaison

In addition, any organizational member of the ACLC is entitled to nominate someone to serve on our Board.  For instance, Shawna Doran is the Board representative for the Alachua County Green Party.  If you are involved in an organization that is, or would like to be a member of the ACLC and you would like to help strengthen our connection and shared work, please contact us.

If you have questions or want to make a nomination (including self-nomination), please email us.


Alachua County Labor Coalition Screens Documentary “Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point,” Making a Business Case for Single-Payer Healthcare

When: Tuesday February 9 at 7 p.m.

Where: Civic Media Center, 433 S. Main Street, Gainesville

$3-5 suggested donation


On Tues, Feb. 9th at 7pm, the Alachua County Labor Coalition will screen “Fix It,” a documentary advocating for a single-payer or “Medicare for All” healthcare system such as the one proposed by Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.  However this documentary is not produced by a left-leaning progressive, but by a businessman. Richard Master, CEO of MCS industries, a Pennsylvania manufacturer of picture frames and mirrors who was shocked to discover how much of the $1,500,000 his company spends on healthcare access for its employees and dependents does not go to their healthcare. About a third of the total goes to administrative expenses like insurance companies’ costs for staff, sales, advertising and shareholders.  Doctors and hospitals also need to employ additional people simply to deal with the variety of insurance plans.


Richard Master produced this film, which took two years to make, to explain how a single-payer system like Medicare would benefit businesses, employees and the rest of us.  Because it is simpler and less bureaucratic it would cost less.  Everyone would be fully covered with no co-pays or deductibles. It would be financed by an increase in taxation which would be more than compensated by the elimination of premiums.


The film contains easily understandable numbers and graphics and interviews with academics, doctors, nurses, business people, patients, Canadian conservatives, and Wendell Potter, the insurance executive turned whistleblower. The event is free and open to the public, though small donations ($3-5) to help cover the Civic Media Center’s expenses would be appreciated.

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We need you more than ever in 2016 if we’re going to be successful in our campaigns to bring a living wage and access to healthcare within reach of more people throughout our community. Please plan to join us Tues, Jan. 26th for a Strategic Planning meeting to help the Labor Coalition map out a strong 2016.  We’ll be meeting at the ACEA Hall (618 NW 13th Ave.). Pizza and refreshments will be available at 5:30pm, the meeting will start at 6.  Please invite other ACLC supporters to join you.


The Labor Coalition sent the following questions to all of the City Commission candidates in the upcoming March 15, 2016 election.  Below are the responses that we received from Mayoral candidate Lauren Poe.  Please be sure to get involved in this important City election!


  1. Do you support updating the current City of Gainesville Living Wage Ordinance so that it:
    1. Closes the current loopholes that allow contractors to pay their employees below a living wage?Yes. I will work to implement a policy that ensures that all city employees earn a living wage and all businesses with which the City of Gainesville contracts pay a living wage.
    1. Applies to all city workers – both part-time and full-time?Yes. A living wage is only such if it applies to all people who work for the city.
    1. Increases the current rate to 125% of the Federal Poverty Level (currently $14.57/hour)?
      Yes, but this should only be seen as a start. The living wage for a single parent with one child is over $22/hr., and children are our largest group in poverty. Our goal should be to pay all people a living wage, one in which they are able to support their families, not just themselves.
  1. Do you support the Alachua County Labor Coalition’s campaign asking the 10 largest employers in Alachua County to pay a living wage of 125% of the Federal Poverty Level by 2020?

Yes, and I will use the office of mayor to promote the community benefits of doing such.



The Labor Coalition sent the following questions to all of the City Commission candidates in the upcoming March 15, 2016 election.  Below are the responses that we received from City Commission District 4 candidate Adrian Hayes-Santos.  Please be sure to get involved in this important City election!


  1. Do you support updating the current City of Gainesville Living Wage Ordinance so that it:
    1. Closes the current loopholes that allow contractors to pay their employees below a living wage?

Yes, I think that city contractors should pay a living wage to their employees. I’m running for Gainesville City Commission District 4 to protect our neighborhoods, promote an economically vibrant downtown, and preserve our natural environment. We set an example for the region, state, and nation in our community with our world-class higher education system, arts, culture, parks and green-spaces. These world-class amenities exist thanks to the hard work of our city employees and contractors. That’s why I believe it is essential that we invest in our workers and should make sure our contractors pay a living wage to their employees. As a city, we should be setting an example for a living wage, not creating loopholes and exemptions for select categories of businesses.

b. Applies to all city workers – both part-time and full-time?

Yes, all city workers should be paid a living wage. We’ve already seen Alachua County Board of County Commissioners and the University of Florida begin steps towards ensuring no one makes under $12/hour thanks in large part to the awareness and advocacy efforts of the Alachua County Labor Coalition. I believe the City of Gainesville needs to join two of its key partners in making sure all city workers are paid a living wage.

c. Increases the current rate to 125% of the Federal Poverty Level (currently $14.57/hour)?

Yes, this is one way that we can help alleviate the growing income inequality gap at the local level. Our policies need to reflect the current economic environment, not one from days long past. Implementation of those policies needs to be done in a way that gives our businesses time to adjust, but doesn’t give them so long that our residents suffer. I support increasing the living wage rate to 125% of the Federal Poverty Level and once on the city commission, will use my business experience to collaborate with businesses owners towards a path to reduce the income inequality in our community.

2. Do you support the Alachua County Labor Coalition’s campaign asking the 10 largest employers in Alachua County to pay a living wage of 125% of the Federal Poverty Level by 2020?

Yes, having our 10 largest employers pay a living wage will have a huge impact on the livelihood of thousands of employees and their families. With my background in business, I know first-hand the challenges of balancing payroll with the company’s bottom-line. Because of that experience as a past business owner, I know that investing in a team is a choice, and that raising wages doesn’t have to mean fewer jobs. In fact, raising wages often means those employees reinvest back in the company or in the community, making a business stronger and healthier. I support the Living Wage Campaign, and I want to collaborate with our 10 largest employers to implement our goal of bringing living wages to their employees and their families. I want those families to be economically empowered, not weighed down by living paycheck-to-paycheck as the wage gap continues to grow.

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Our new Labor Coalition t-shirts are union-made and locally printed.  They come in small, medium, large, and extra-large and are available in Dark Ash Grey or Lime Green.  They have our logo on the front and a Frederick Douglass quote on the back: “If there is no struggle there is no progress…Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

They are available on a sliding scale $16-20 and we are also offering them as a gift to anyone who joins our Committee of 100.  Please contact us if you’d like to get a shirt.

P.s. We have no idea who those two t-shirt models are.  Send us a pic of you or a friend wearing one of our shirts and we’ll gladly use that instead!


Over 20 Florida Cities Join National Day of Action to Fight for $15 and Union Rights

Florida’s Workers and Voters Demand Action from Presidential Candidates, State and Local Lawmakers Vowing to Take Fight for $15 to the Ballot Box in 2016

On Tuesday November 10, hundreds of Floridians will come together to demand action from state legislators and presidential candidates to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Rallies and marches will be held in over 20 cities across Florida, as part of a National Day of Action with events in over 500 cities throughout the country. Floridians will rally in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Miami, Clearwater, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Fort Myers, among other cities.

WHO: Fast Food Workers, Students, Alachua Labor Coalition, Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell, Gainesville Mayoral Candidate Lauren Poe

WHAT: National Day of Action for Living Wages and Union Rights

WHEN: Tuesday November 10th starting @ 4:00pm

WHERE: 13th Street & University Avenue in Gainesville, FL

As Florida’s legislative session approaches and attention on the presidential primaries grows, Florida’s working families and voters are making a clear demand to state legislators and presidential candidates: hardworking Floridians need and deserve to earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form a union, in order to help thousands of families out of poverty and restore our country’s middle class. Recent polls show that 65% of Florida voters support raising the minimum wage.

Florida voters are calling on lawmakers to take action at the state level by co-sponsoring the $15 minimum wage legislation, SB6 and HB109 and at the local level they are demanding legislators pass living wage ordinances.

Fight for 15 Florida and community members will stand together with underpaid workers who serve fast food, educate and care for children, care for seniors and people living with disabilities, help airport passengers, teach students in higher education and many others, to make sure the voices of Florida’s workers and voters are heard loud and clear.

“i’ve been working here too long to be paid so little. I’m fighting for 15 for my family and my future.” says Eric Campbell from Wendy’s in Gainesville

A recent United Way report concluded that Floridians need $15 an hour just to make ends meet as 45 percent – or 3.2 million – of all households in this state can’t afford basic housing, child care, food, health care and transportation. The last time the minimum wage was increased in Florida was in January when it went up a pathetic 12 cents, so an increase is clearly long overdue.

A recent poll of workers paid less than $15/hr commissioned by the National Employment Law Project showed that 69% of unregistered voters would register to vote if there was a candidate who supported $15/hr and a union; and that 65% of registered voters paid less than $15/hr would be more likely to vote if there was a candidate who supported $15/hr and a union. Seventy-six percent of the underpaid workers surveyed said they would pledge to vote for candidates who support $15 and a union. That’s 48 million potential voters who could turn out if there were candidates who backed higher pay and union rights.

Over the next year, the Fight for $15 plans to engage this untapped voter group around issues of higher pay, union rights, improved child care and home care, racial justice and immigration reform— issues identified by underpaid workers as key factors in whether they will go to the polls for a candidate. Forty-two percent of workers in America are paid less than $15, including 48% of women, 54% of African Americans, and 60% of Latinos.

The expansion of the Fight for $15 into the 2016 political arena marks the latest sign of the mounting political power of underpaid workers who, just three years ago launched their movement for higher pay and union rights in New York City. The demand for $15/hr is already helping to define the 2016 presidential race. All of the major Democratic presidential candidates support the Fight for $15, and the Democratic National Committee voted in August to make $15/hr an official part of its 2016 platform.