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Tuesday, April 13, 2021
<p>Lauren Byers, a 24-year-old UF history senior, speaks during a city commission meeting on Thursday evening. Byers said she was disappointed with Mayor Ed Braddy’s response to the Alachua County Labor Coalition’s demand for a $15 minimum wage.</p>

Lauren Byers, a 24-year-old UF history senior, speaks during a city commission meeting on Thursday evening. Byers said she was disappointed with Mayor Ed Braddy’s response to the Alachua County Labor Coalition’s demand for a $15 minimum wage.

About 32 members of the Alachua County Labor Coalition rallied at City Hall on Thursday to demand an ordinance raising the minimum wage to nearly $15 an hour for city employees over the next five years.

Several members spoke during public comment at the commission meeting, but the commission decided not to meet their demands, despite some support from a few commissioners.

“It is my anticipation that regardless of what any committee might be doing, the commission as a whole will be addressing these matters in a budget context within a matter of months,” said Mayor Ed Braddy.

Several supporters of the wage increase said they were disappointed by the commission’s response. 

“They’re putting it into a future budget that may or may not happen,” said Jeremiah Tattersall, who helped organize the rally.

“I feel like we were blown off,” said Sheila Payne, another coalition member.

James Ingle, a 38-year-old electrician, told the commission that paying a low minimum wage to employees hurts the community by causing some people to save money and leave. 

“I really think we are undercutting ourselves by not making sure we are investing in our community and in our workforce,” Ingle said.

Lauren Byers said the rally went well, but she was disappointed with Braddy’s “vague” response.

“Months could be six months, and that’s not a time frame we’re willing to work with,” the 24-year-old UF history senior said.

She and others said they’d continue to press the city to pass an ordinance raising the minimum wage. 

During public comment, 2016 Gainesville mayoral candidate Donald Shepherd Sr. expressed his support for raising the minimum wage to $15.

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“I represent the people, and I would like this living wage passed,” Shepherd said, notably upset.

It would be an increase from 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, currently $11.66 an hour, to 125 percent, according to the coalition.

“People who work should be able to support their families,” Payne said.

Contact Hunter Williamson at hwilliamson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @hunterewilliam

Lauren Byers, a 24-year-old UF history senior, speaks during a city commission meeting on Thursday evening. Byers said she was disappointed with Mayor Ed Braddy’s response to the Alachua County Labor Coalition’s demand for a $15 minimum wage.

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