Over the last fifteen years, weak federal and state laws have failed to protect low-wage working people from wage stagnation and rising living costs. Communities have responded by passing local living wage laws, which require private businesses benefitting from public money to pay a livable wage to their workforce. Public dollars should be leveraged for the public good rather than subsidizing poverty-wage work in janitorial services, construction, or other such industries.  Labor, religious and community coalitions have won several strong living wage ordinances in South Florida. However, many localities have not yet passed such ordinances and without effective enforcement of existing ordinances even gains already made are under threat.


FLS/CJP has been providing research and investigation support to Miami’s newest organization, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Miami or ROC-Miami which organizes low-wage restaurant workers to improve working conditions and combat racial discrimination in Miami’s restaurant industry.   

The Community Justice Project of FLS (CJP) provided detailed memorandum to ROCMiami about the local and state regulatory structures overseeing the restaurant industry in Miami-Dade County. CJP has also been researching and writing a restaurant owner manual detailing the relevant labor laws and anti-discrimination laws which ROC-Miami hopes to distribute to restaurant owners once completed.


FLS/CJP Advocates: Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project



The Miami Herald Jun. 09, 2010 By DAVID SMILEY 

Miami Beach's lowest paid employees will see a pay raise nearly a decade in the making after elected officials voted to obey the city's own laws and increase its living wage. Commissioners unanimously agreed Wednesday to hike the minimum hourly wage payable to employees of the city and its major contractors by about $1.50 come Oct. 1. By 2012, the $8.56 living wage rate for employees receiving health benefits should reach $11.28. Those without benefits will receive $12.92. ``We're doing what we have promised,'' said Commissioner Jerry Libbin. In 2001, Miami Beach became the first city in the state to pass a living wage ordinance. The purpose of the law was to pay full-time employees enough to keep them above the federal poverty line and was celebrated as a progressive policy. But the law also stated that the living wage must be increased each year to adjust for the cost of living. That never happened. City Manager Jorge Gonzalez has said the failure to obey the law was a mistake and was not deliberate, but earlier this year a security guard threatened to sue unless the city increased the wage. The minimum wage in Florida and federally is $7.25 an hour. Read more here.


Staff of FLS and the Community Justice Project, as well as the Human Services Coalition, and the South Florida AFL-CIO founded and participated in the Community Coalition for a Living Wage, (CCLW) to organize the community and mount a campaign to enact a living wage ordinance in Dade County.  The Miami-Dade County Commission unanimously passed a living wage ordinance in 1999.


Miami Beach officials ``shocked'' that city ignored own living wage law   BY DAVID SMILEY This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


When Miami Beach became the first Florida city to pass a living-wage law in 2001, the legislation was hailed as a progressive move toward guaranteeing all full-time workers pay that would put them at or over the federal poverty line.


But these days, discussion of the city's law evokes words like ``sad'' and ``shocked.''  That's because for nearly nine years, Miami Beach has ignored the part of its law that requires the living wage be updated every year, leaving the lowest-paid employees of the city and city contractors at an hourly rate dollars below what it should be under the city ordinance.


A Jan. 26 memo from City Manager Jorge Gonzalez says the living wage established by the 2001 law -- equal to that of Miami-Dade County -- should today be $11.36 an hour for employees receiving benefits. As of Jan. 28, it remained at $8.56.


``It's embarrassing,'' Commissioner Deede Weithorn said during the Finance and Citywide Projects committee meeting Jan. 26. ``We should just tell everyone that we don't have a living wage here, just minimum wage.''


The committee broached the topic of raising the wage amid pressure from the Service Employees International Union on behalf of employees for the city's security contractor. Also on Jan. 26, attorney Jose Javier Rodriguez of Florida Legal Services sent a letter to Gonzalez, saying legal action would be taken should the wage not be increased by Feb. 10. 


Under the 2001 law, the city must update its living wage yearly, according to cost-of-living increases determined by the Consumer Price Index, unless directed otherwise by the city commission. However, Gonzalez acknowledged that no commission ever directed the city not to update the living wage rate.


When Commissioner Jonah Wolfson asked why it was never updated, Gonzalez initially raised his palms and shrugged. Gonzalez, who did not return calls requesting further comment, said later in the meeting that the failure to act was by ``omission'' and was not done on purpose. . .


(The full article is available  here)

Miami Herald, February 25, 2010  BY DAVID SMILEY   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Miami Beach finally might raise its living wage for the first time since passing the law nearly a decade ago.

Commissioners sitting on the city's finance committee voted last week to raise the living wage rate -- currently at the 2001 level of $8.56 an hour for employees with benefits -- to $11.28 an hour by the 2012-13 budget year.

The first raise of $1.50 should come in October.

Officials expect vendors to pass on the cost of raising the hourly rate to the city government and estimates the price tag at about $1.3 million over the next three years. About $547,000 of that will come from the city's general fund, with the rest coming from the city's enterprise fund, which includes sanitation, water, sewer, stormwater, parking, and convention center departments. . ."  For the entire story go here.