45ºF

Service industry makes final push to defeat minimum wage hike

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Service industry workers in Destin will protest Amendment 2 on Friday and similar demonstrations were held in Tampa this past weekend.

The demonstrations are part of a final push to warn voters that hiking the minimum wage could kill their jobs.

Amendment 2 would raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is warning increasing wages in the middle of a pandemic would devastate small businesses.

“We’re just trying to keep our doors open. Thousand have already closed permanently. I mean look at Disney, they laid off 28,000 employees,” said Carol Dover, President of the Association.

And those fears are shared by some workers in the service industry.

“I can make anywhere from $25-$30 an hour depending on what kind of tips I get,” said Pinellas County server, Sandy Cheek.

Cheek has worked at the same restaurant for 32 years.

She fears if the amendment is passed, her employer will be forced to pay her an hourly wage and do away with tips.

“This is gonna hurt me as a server, it’s gonna hurt us bartenders. I do both. It’s going to hurt the restaurant industry,” said Cheek.

According to a report from Business Insider, since New York began gradually raising wages from $7.25 in 2009 to $15 by 2021, the hospitality and retail sectors did not lose jobs as a direct result, according to a 2019 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The amendment was at 67% approval in mid-September, but a recent poll shows support has fallen ten points.

Of six polls conducted since May, Amendment 2′s polling average sits at 61.5 percent.

The Amendment needs 60 percent voter approval for passage.

The Restaurant and Lodging Association is hoping voters consider the long-term repercussions of hiking labor costs before bubbling in their ballot.

“You vote yourself in thinking that you’re voting a pay raise, I can promise you there’s a really good chance that you’re voting yourself completely out of a job,” said Dover.

If Amendment 2 is approved, Florida would be the only state to put such a measure in its state constitution.

Others have set similar policies through their legislature or at the local level.