First it was fast-food workers, now government employees seem to be picking up the rallying cry for a $15 minimum wage. At least that’s the case in St. Petersburg where the Florida Public Services Union is challenging Mayor Rick Kriseman to enact a wage hike.
The request came as the city and union began routine bargaining talks on Friday, June 13, according to The Tampa Tribune. While union officials maintain $15 is a “living wage,” the city has only agreed to a 2 percent pay increase, the newspaper reports. An estimated 300 city workers, some of whom earn just over $9 an hour, would be affected if the union’s request were granted.
Union chief Rick Smith estimates it would cost city taxpayers about $1 million to cover an increase to $15, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
"Why aren't they embarrassed and apologetic about the fact that people work for the city and are in poverty,” the Times quoted Brian Brehm, a city water treatment plant employee, as asking.
At this point, city officials are sticking with the 2 percent offer, but say further bargaining is possible as talks continue in two weeks.
The cry for an increase in minimum wage has been a hot topic in recent years. The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour and was adopted in 2009. Florida’s minimum wage, however, comes in higher at $7.93. The city of Seattle recently adopted a $15 minimum wage, but that decision is now being challenged in court.
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