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Florida House Passes Bill That Could Cut Employees' Pay By 40 Percent

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The Florida House just passed a bill that overrides local living wage and sick time ordinances, meaning that South Florida employees could take a 40 percent cut in pay.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties both have local laws that require companies who work with the county to pay a higher living wage than the statewide minimum of $7.79.

For 2012-2013, the living wage in Miami-Dade was set at $12.06 with a health plan and $13.82 without.

Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) supports preempting local living wages, arguing that "Businesses ... need to know they have consistency and stability in the environment in order to drive economic growth," as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and employers Walt Disney World and Darden Restaurants are big backers of the bill.

Meanwhile critics like Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs held that "The argument that we could balance our budgets on the back of the working poor just does not sit well with me," at a press conference on March 21.

Then there are the stories of the workers trying to get by on their wages.

One airport employee told activist group 1Miami how he can't make enough money with just one job, so he took on a second job, often leaving the airport at 2 a.m. just to come back at 5 a.m.

"It is not easy; it's not a game. I don't have any time to spend with my family so that they can know me," he said. "I have a bunch of coworkers experiencing the same problem. And that's not acceptable."

According to a recent MIT study, someone in Broward County must earn at least $11.72 an hour, working full-time, in order to just support themselves. To support a child as well, an hourly wage of $22.95 is required to meet daily expenses.

Those figures in Miami-Dade are $10.79 for those single and $21.87 with one dependent.

Miami-Dade enacted a living wage ordinance in 1999, "to allow citizens to support themselves and their families above the poverty line and with dignity." It applies to any county contract over $100,000 and any work at Miami-Dade Aviation Department facilities.

The bill, which passed Thursday 75 to 43, also overrides benefits granted by local governments such as paid sick leave and domestic partner benefits, according to the Sun Sentinel.

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