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Commission Votes To Increase Living Wage Rate

May 12, 2010
View the Original Article

Miami Beach, Fl—The Miami Beach City Commission voted unanimously this afternoon for the first increase in the living wage rate in nearly a decade. Outside the meeting, one hundred union members, community organizations and clergy rallied in support of fair wages and benefits for workers contracted by the City of Miami Beach. Despite the mandate in the law, the living wage ordinance, which sets a minimum wage for contracted security officers and parking attendants and other workers, has not been increased to keep pace with inflation.

“Miami Beach should not be in the business of creating poverty jobs,” said Eric Brakken, 32BJ SEIU Florida Director. “We commend the Commission for taking steps to ensure Miami’s Beach’s hard-working security officers and parking attendants will be able to support their families.”

Although the living wage law mandates that the City Manager adjust the living wage for inflation annually, the rate has remained the same since the ordinance was adopted in 2001. Over the same time period, the consumer price index for Miami-Fort Lauderdale has increased by more than 29 percent. As a result, workers like parking attendant Maria Eugenia Mena and security officer Tony Jones, who have been working at Miami Beach City Hall for 14 years, are struggling to get by on what were intended to be livable wages.

“I work all day at the parking lot, breathing pollution, putting my health at risk,” said Maria Eugenia Mena who has $21,000 in medical bills from a recent hospital visit. Mena earns as little as $10.10 an hour and has no access to affordable and quality healthcare. “I don’t know how I am going to pay these healthcare bills.”

Maria Eugenia Mena and her coworkers at city contracted parking lots in South Beach, who have been organizing with 32BJ SEIU to demand better wages, benefits and health care will benefit from the living wage rate increase.

“I am pleased to stand with our employees, and to finally provide the raises that they were promised years ago” said Miami Beach Vice Mayor Jerry Libbin. “It is extremely important that these individuals, at the lowest end of the wage scale, are not denied affordable health insurance”.

“I am very proud of Miami Beach today for doing the right thing for both our residents and employees, “ said Miami Beach Commissioner Deede Weithorn.”Updating the living wage to keep up with inflation is a matter of fairness and helps our communities grow stronger.”

The Commission is expected hold a final vote next month. If the measure passes, by 2012 the living wage rate would increase to $11.28 an hour with benefits and $12.92 an hour without benefits.

With more than 120,000 members in eight states and the District of Columbia, including Florida, 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.