by Diana Moreno
On April 16, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of passing a Wage Recovery Ordinance in Alachua County. The coalition behind the victory, The Alachua County Wage Theft Task Force, spent months outreaching to the religious and business community, as well as lobbying their elected county representatives to pass a local solution to our state’s wage theft epidemic. But what should have been a night of celebration for workers and organizers in Alachua County was muted by the ongoing legislative session and our representative’s efforts to kill our ordinance in Tallahassee.
When the Florida capitol entered its last weeks of session, activists from across the state were watching closely as three preemption bills tried to move through both chambers. These bills — SB 726, HB 655, & SB 1216 — would have destroyed the Task Force’s efforts to protect workers from wage theft, as well as Orange County’s efforts to win paid sick-leave for their community.
Clearly, our state representatives’ distaste for “big government” disappeared quickly when the bottom line of powerful business and special interests groups was being threatened. In the end, session came to a close with only one of the three bills (HB 655) making it through. We were spared the gutting of our ordinance, although our Orange County friends were not as lucky.