The Alachua County Labor Coalition has kicked off a campaign to pass a Living Wage Ordinance for workers employed by Alachua County and the businesses it contracts with. Simply put, a living wage ordinance would set the starting pay at a livable wage as determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and automatically indexed to the release of their reports. This rate is currently at $11.66 an hour. This ordinance will immediately benefit about 100 underpaid County workers who are mostly custodians, laborers, and office workers. This ordinance will benefit all county workers because, as the old idiom goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Being the 9th largest employer in the county means that this ordinance will also have a ripple effect throughout our community with increased spending.
The City of Gainesville passed their version of a Living Wage Ordinance in 2003 which set the minimum wage for city workers and their contractors. Unfortunately, the Gainesville ordinance also has numerous loopholes that encourage outsourcing as a way to circumvent the true spirit of the ordinance. In moving forward with the Alachua County Living Wage Ordinance, it’s important that we plug these leaks.
All workers deserve a livable wage. With the federal government unable to increase the minimum wage due to obstructionist elements in Congress we must act locally in whatever capacity we can.