by Jason Fults
It’s been an exhilarating month for the Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC). On April 12, the Alachua County Commission voted unanimously to pass the strongest Living Wage Ordinance in the state of Florida. This victory was possible because of months of hard work by our members and a few very progressive County Commissioners.
But Alachua County is just one of the top ten employers that our campaign is targeting. The next employers on our radar are the City of Gainesville, the School Board of Alachua County, and other local educational institutions. We are asking all of these employers to commit to paying 125 percent above the federal poverty level, plus healthcare, within five years.
As one large private employer after another commits to $15/hour, and “Fight for $15!” becomes a national rallying cry, we are optimistic that this campaign will continue to yield real benefits for thousands of hard-working families throughout our community.
On May 5, newly-elected Mayor Lauren Poe and City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos were sworn in. Both of these officials campaigned on an explicit Living Wage platform, and ACLC allies offered boisterous support when they each mentioned the Living Wage in their acceptance speeches.
In the coming weeks, we will be working with the Gainesville City Commission to raise wages for their lowest-paid employees and remove loopholes that encourage the City to outsource to lower-paying private contractors.
On April 26, the ACLC hosted Denise Diaz from Central Florida Jobs with Justice as our guest speaker.
Jobs with Justice works at the national and local levels to win improvements in people’s lives and shape the public discourse on workers’ rights and the economy. The Central Florida coalition has over 27 member organizations made up of unions, community organizations, student and faith groups committed to building power for worker rights and has been a true inspiration to our own work.
Ms. Diaz has served as their Executive Director for over nine years, and in that time has worked with local leaders on issues such as transit equity, paid sick days, and right to organize fights.
Throughout May, we will continue to support our brothers and sisters at Verizon, and continue to push forward on the Living Wage.
We are organizing an event on May 24 with our friends at the Bernie Sanders campaign where we will make a powerful argument for continuing Bernie’s push for a national “Medicare for All” healthcare system.
You can find event details on our website (http://laborcoalition.org/) and our Facebook group. If you’d like to get involved in these or other ACLC campaigns, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org; 352-375-2832).