Democratic State Representative José J. Rodriguez, an attorney at
Kelley/Uustal, is one of 18 legislators throughout Florida who recently
agreed to take the
Minimum Wage Challenge set forth by the Service Employees International Union (SEUI). After only
two days, he failed the test.
Rodriguez’ story appeared in the
Miami New Times® and can be viewed
The challenge was this: to live on Florida’s minimum wage, which
is currently $8.05 per hour, for five days. At this rate of pay, participants
are given only $17 per day – or $85 per week – with which
to pay for all expenses, excluding car payments, housing, childcare, and
credit card bills.
The enormous difficulty of this task soon proved itself. On the second
day of the experiment, Rodriguez was forced to wait more than 30 minutes
for a bus to take him to his office. When the bus failed to show up at
the time designated in the online schedule, he quickly had to give up
and find a ride.
This sobering experience sheds light on the difficulties low-income workers
face when transportation resources are limited. For a minimum wage employee,
the length of time necessary for the commute probably would have caused
them to be late for work, costing them their work reputation as well as
their wages. But without a car or income to pay for more costly modes
of transportation, like Uber, the only remedy is to either get up earlier.
“Either way, the commute takes three times long as it should, and
that’s less time with family,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also experienced grocery shopping on a shoestring budget. Together
with two employees from a local McDonald’s who earn the minimum
wage, he shopped for household staples like eggs, juice, milk, and toilet
paper at El Libanes Supermarket in Little Havana.
With only $17 to spend per day, it is easy to wonder how people are able
to put food on their tables and still find a way to keep a roof over their
heads, especially with rising costs of living.
While this challenge is a symbolic act aimed at raising awareness of the
difficulties faced by people working full-time for minimum wage, Rep.
Rodriguez is taking an active role in helping to solve this pervasive
problem. He and other Democratic lawmakers are encouraging legislation
that would nearly double Florida’s minimum wage. Two bills –
HB109 and SB6 – call for Florida’s minimum wage to be increased
to $15 an hour, as it now is in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Experiencing the difficulty of this exercise has renewed Rodriguez’s
fervor in the fight to get this legislation passed.
Employment Law Lawyers in South Florida
Kelley/Uustal is proud of the efforts of Attorney Rodriguez and is committed
to doing everything possible to assist clients struggling with unlawful
employment practices. If you are struggling with workplace harassment,
discrimination, wrongful termination, or unpaid wages or overtime, you
may be able to take legal action against your employer. You work hard
– let us help you fight back against unlawful employment practices
and get you the financial compensation you deserve.
Because we value our clients, we offer free consultations at our office,
which is located in Fort Lauderdale. We also accept appointments at our
West Palm Beach and Marathon locations – simply call us at (954)
900-9364. You can also fill out an
online form. Get started today!