Labor
9:02 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Who Should Define A Living Wage In Florida: Your State Or County?

Rich Templin of the Florida AFL-CIO is fighting a bill in the state legislature that would ban county living-wage ordinances. The bill has already passed the House and a less sweeping version is moving through Senate committees.
Credit Jordan Michael/WLRN

The Florida House has passed a bill that would preempt local living wage ordinances and a similar version is making its way through the Senate.

The House measure would not allow local governments to mandate that their vendors pay employees more than a set minimum or provide them with special work-related benefits.

Rich Templin, legislative and political director for the Florida AFL-CIO, is fighting to stop the bill. 

“The state will have no formula that allows public sector employers or contractors, i.e. local governments, to be able to adjust wages to account for cost of living to keep people out of poverty,” Templin said. “This bill goes directly at local governments and their ability to set standards that they want their contractors to follow.”

Rep. Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando, is the bill's sponsor. He told a House committee these ordinances have actually harmed the state's ability to grow jobs because companies have different rules to maneuver, county by county.

“Some counties, in particular the big three down on the southeast coast – Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Broward – have become so large, and their contracting is such a big part of their (local) economies that they're really distorting the (local overall) economy,” Precourt said. “There's a need for uniformity in what they're doing as well as what the rest of the state might do.”

Templin says each county should have its own wage ordinance because the cost of living varies greatly around the state.

“It also just goes to the idea of home rule,” Templin said. The state is "telling local governments what they can do with the tax dollars that they have been empowered by their citizens to spend.”