On Monday, Osceola county commissioners will vote on a living wage ordinance that requires all workers employed by the county – and the companies they contract with – to receive a wage that aligns with the cost of living in the region.
The wage that will be debated is expected to begin at $11.61 with a 10 percent increase each year until 2020. That would keep the amount at a safe level above the projected cost of living in the county.
Advocates in favor of the measure have argued that a higher wage is needed in the area to eliminate the county’s reputation as a low-pay community, and could help many families on the verge of homelessness who live now in many of the tourism district motels.
“We’re dead last in the region. We’ve got to change that,” District 1 Osceola Commissioner Michael Harford told Florida Politics. “We’ve made other decisions in the past that haven’t worked. It’s time to try something different.”
Opponents of the measure say abruptly raising the amount at least 33 percent from the $8.05 amount that’s in place now would put small businesses on the brink of collapsing or laying off workers.
“If you can’t pay a living wage that would allow your workers to afford something like housing, are you the kind of contractor we want to do business with?” Harford said.
On Thursday, Orlando state Rep. Victor Torres filed legislation that would raise the minimum wage in the state to $15 dollars, an amount that’s been adopted by cities such as Seattle and San Francisco.