St. Pete leaders push to pass the 'living wage' ordinance

Local leader pushing for "Living wage" ordinance which would require companies seeking city contracts to pay workers $12 an hour, if the bid is more than $100,000

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- St. Petersburg Council member Karl Nurse has been pushing to help people living in poverty.

The “Living wage” ordinance would require companies seeking city contracts to pay their workers $12 an hour, if the bid is more than $100,000.

“The Tampa Bay area has the lowest median income of the 25 largest metros in the county. We’re trying to find ways to use the cities leverage to raise the standard of living in town,” says Nurse.

Our partners at the Tampa Bay Times reported that a number of committees unanimously approved the idea.

“These are adults, these are full-time jobs, and when you pay people $9 an hour, you can guarantee people are living in poverty,” he says.

We spoke with local Alex Harris, who is just 21 years old, already having to help support his mother, sisters, and father.

“We have been struggling most of our life. We're just barely getting through,” says Harris.

Alex and his family have been living at a Motel 6 for three months. It cost $500 a week.

With his mother having two prior evictions, and Alex having a felony charge, it makes it hard to find an apartment that will accept them.

“When we try and find a place, we can't put me or my mother’s income on there. They got to do background checks and we don't pass. Almost everyone wants you to make two to three times the amount,” says Harris.

Before you judge him, think about this. Alex, his mother and sister all have jobs.

He says he works himself to the ground, but with all three of them making minimum wage, it's still not enough.

“Our goal is to stop depending on the government but it's so hard to stop when you only make 8 dollars an hour,” he says.

It may just be $4 more, but Alex says that would help with the anxiety he faces trying to pay bills.

This ordinance would help people like Alex, who would want to work for a company that pays more.

Nurse initially wanted workers to get $13 an hour.

However, Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration objected.

They said it could prevent small businesses from bidding on city contracts and make them more expensive for the city. So, it was lowered to $12.

Council Members will be voting on the ordinance November 16 which is nine days after election day.

Nurse says, if passed, the wage would increase every year until workers are paid $15 an hour.

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