MIAMI, FL— An already high cost of living has skyrocketed in Miami-Dade. As Miamians are faced with rising rent, low-wage immigrant workers are some of the most impacted. Now, as Miami Dade residents are working to recover what was lost from the pandemic, Florida State legislators have proposed legislation that could cut their wages to $10.00 an hour.
After years of advocacy by South Florida’s hospitality workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 355, enacted a living wage of $17.62 per hour—$14.03 in wages plus $3.59 for health insurance—for all airport workers at MIA with the support of the Miami-Dade County Commission and Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Since then, Local 355 has been pushing to protect wages as state legislators in Tallahassee propose to eliminate the County requirement through a so-called preemption bill SB1124/HB943. If passed, this law would make most living wage requirements in Miami-Dade County and other Florida counties unenforceable, including living wage requirements currently covering airport concessions workers in Miami-Dade and Broward.
Union leaders have been meeting with legislators to explain why the preemption bill is bad for workers who are also constituents. If SB1124/HB943 is passed, Miami-Dade County could not require employers to pay more than the current $10 an hour state minimum wage.
“State legislators are threatening to take money directly out of the pockets of the people who have showed up to work throughout the roller coasters of this pandemic,” said Wendi Walsh, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 355. “We know no one can sustain themselves or their families on $10. Most union workers will be protected by wages secured in their contract, but this will be devastating for non-union workers,” Walsh added.
Hospitality workers are speaking up. Rose Marcelin, who has been a cook at HMS Host Jose Cuervo at Miami International Airport for 20 years, says, “I’m a single mother of three. Miami is an expensive city and cost of living has gone up drastically. All my money goes towards my bills. I’ve worked at the airport for 20 years—the living wage is the minimum I should earn. I need it. My coworkers need it. I’m going to do everything I can from here to Tallahassee to protect it.”
MEDIA ADVISORY FOR—THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2021
CONTACT: MJ Leira, [email protected], (917) 565-7697
WHO: Approx. 40 UNITE HERE Local 355 hospitality union workers.
WHAT: Press conference. RSVP HERE.
WHERE: Miami International Airport — Door 1 Departures.
WHEN: Thursday, October 28, 2021, at 11:00 AM.
As workers across the country mobilize during “Striketober,” and employers raise salaries, Miami International Airport workers are demanding airport concessions companies open up and pay higher wages.
Despite relief to MIA companies, the three largest concessionaires at MIA had nearly one third of their shops closed last month. Travelers are complaining of long lines due to the closures and former employees have left for higher paying jobs elsewhere. To bring MIA back, concessions companies must open all outlets and pay workers a fair wage.
UNITE HERE Local 355 is the hospitality workers’ union in South Florida, representing over 7,000 workers in hotels, gaming, restaurants and food service, and airports. Ninety-eight percent of its members were laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and sixty percent remain out of work today.
MEDIA ADVISORY FOR—Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Contact: MJ Leira, [email protected]
As residents are coming back to work, the airport needs financial relief and workers need the living wage.
WHO: UNITE HERE Local 355 concessions workers at Miami International Airport and allies.
WHAT: Press conference with hospitality workers from Miami International Airport followed by a door hanging action in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods.
WHERE: Miami International Airport Departures Door 1, 2100 NW 42nd Ave, Miami, FL 33142
WHEN: Wednesday, July 7 at 10:00 AM. RSVP Here.
VISUALS: Concessions workers will deliver a letter with 600+ signatories to the Aviation Director, and afterwards canvass County neighborhoods asking voters to “Please tell the Commissioners you support MIA concessions workers.” Workers will meet outside Miami International Airport Door 1.
*Interviews with Miami International Airport workers available immediately as well as opportunities to follow workers speaking to residents after the press conference.*
Contact: MJ Leira at [email protected]
Before the pandemic, Miami-Dade Commissioners voted to give airport concession workers a modest pay raise and basic health care. Today, workers are finally getting back to work, but their companies are still trying to recover from the toll of COVID-19.
Airport concessions workers are asking their County Commissioners to reach an agreement with airport companies that allows them to pay the raise the Commissioners voted for. Many concessions workers have lived and worked near the airport for decades. They will canvass neighborhoods in every County Commission district to rally support for the airport recovery effort. If Miami-Dade is going to recover as a county, airport concessionaires deserve relief.
UNITE HERE Local 355 is a labor union that represents over 7,000 members in South Florida’s hospitality industry working in hotels, casinos, restaurants, stadiums, and airports. Over 50% of its members remain out of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now is the time to create more middle-class Union jobs in the South, not eliminate them.
MEDIA ADVISORY FOR MONDAY, APRIL 12
Contact: MJ Leira, (917) 565-7697, [email protected]
WHO: Laid off hospitality workers from the Diplomat Beach Resort
WHAT: Laid off employees fight to get their jobs back by talking to residents in Broward County. They will distribute 10,000 doorhangers highlighting profiles of workers who have been laid off during the pandemic.
WHERE: Broward County Office: 115 S Andrews Ave Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
WHEN: Monday, April 12 at 10:00 AM
Over 650 long-term workers at the Diplomat Beach Resort have a looming deadline of losing their hard-earned Union jobs next month. As South Florida’s tourism industry rebounds laid-off housekeepers, cooks, bellmen, and banquet servers at the Diplomat Beach Resort are leading the way on behalf of all hospitality workers, by calling on Broward County Commissioners to prioritize their return to work.
Layoffs have created an economic impact in Broward County that will leave long-term consequences for its residents. The median hourly wage for a housekeeper in Fort Lauderdale is $11.23 compared to their Union job at the Diplomat at $15.50.
The Diplomat, along with all hotels in Broward County, has a moral obligation to give workers the reassurance that once tourism comes back, their employees will get their jobs back. Laid-off workers have joined their Union, UNITE HERE Local 355, to fight for their right to return to work. Now is the time to create more middle-class union jobs in the South, not eliminate them.
*Opportunities to follow laid-off hospitality workers speaking to residents in Broward County will be available.
UNITE HERE Local 355 is a labor union that represents over 7,000 members in the hospitality industry working in hotels, casinos, restaurants, stadiums, and airports. Over 75% of its members are still out of work as a result.