With wage increases as the key issue, two major labor unions representing workers at Walt Disney World and other hospitality businesses in Central Florida plan to rally Wednesday afternoon in Kissimmee to support mayoral candidate Jose Alvarez.

Alvarez is in a heated election battle with Art Otero in the non-partisan race.

UNITE HERE Locals 737 and 362 endorsed Alvarez and are backing him with the rally because Alvarez has taken a strong stand on advocating increased wages in the hospitality industry, said Jeremy Cruz-Haicken, president of Local 737.

Together those two union locals represent more than 21,000 housekeepers, dishwashers, custodians, and attractions workers from Disney and other Central Florida hospitality employers. More than 100 will be marching under the banner “Kissimmee Needs A Raise!,” near the Kissimmee Trail Bridge over John Young Parkway, between Donegan and Columbia streets in Kissimmee, he said.

Alvarez also has received the endorsement of the The Central Florida Central Labor Council, the umbrella group of most unions in the region, Cruz-Haicken said.

“For us, this mayor’s race is all about raising wages for hospitality workers in Central Florida,” he said. “We’re going to go into negotiations with Disney and other hospitality employers and we need people in elected office who will stand with us and join us, and Jose Alvarez will stand with us. We have full-time employees in the hospitality industry who make so little they live in motels on (U.S. Highway) 192. We’re determined to change that.”

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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