Starting June 1st, Florida’s minimum wage will raise to $7.31 per hour after a circuit court judge ruled that the State of Florida violated Florida’s Constitution by failing to do so. This is a huge victory for Florida’s lowest-wage workers who will earn $28 million more in 2011! Jose Oliva, Policy Coordinator for the Restaurant Opportunities Center said of the victory: “tipped workers, like all minimum wage earners, often survive at the margins and count on every penny earned; this legal victory means that workers will be one step closer out of poverty.” This victory’s timing is significant given the rising gas and food prices that already puts a strain and low-wage workers.
A constitutional amendment that Florida voters passed in 2004 requires the state’s minimum wage to increase every January to reflect an increase in the cost of living, such as an increase in gas and food prices and cannot decrease if the cost of living falls. In 2004, this vote passed 72% to 28%, yet the state failed to increase the minimum wage on January 1st, 2011 to reflect last year’s cost of living. The minimum wage for tipped workers will also rise to $4.29 per hour.
The suit was filed by National Employment Law Project, Florida Legal Services, and Tallahassee lawyer William H. Davis on behalf of: Farmworkers Association of Florida, Restaurant Opportunities Center, WeCount, and individual minimum wage workers. The ruling was made by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis.