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Broward County Commissioners Join Workers To Rally For Higher Wages

Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness
Courtesy of Ana Tinsly
Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness was one of several commissioners who joined a rally for subcontracted airport workers Tuesday afternoon, in support of a higher living wage.

Workers held a rally Tuesday afternoon in Downtown Fort Lauderdale to petition the Broward County Commission to raise the living wage.

A new report by The Fort Lauderdale Airport Coalition shows that nearly half of contracted and subcontracted workers, like wheelchair attendants at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, are living near or under the poverty line.

Sub-contracted workers in Broward currently make $12.38 an hour if they receive health insurance, or $13.98 an hour if they do not.

Read More: Fort Lauderdale Airport Workers Pass First Step To Get A Higher Living Wage

Three Broward commissioners, Dale Holness, Nan Rich, and Michael Udine, came to the rally to show support for the issue.

The Florida chapter of the workers' union 32 BJ SEIU has been working with the commission on an ordinance that would increase the living wage.

"It's a proposal that we are working with the county commission, there was definitely a feeling of solidarity and a general feeling of celebration that the commissioners were there," said union spokesperson Ana Tinsly.

Sanitation worker Edith Forestal, who works at the Fort Lauderdale airport, came to the rally to tell commissioners she is struggling to provide for her family on her current wages.

"Living in Florida, the heat is terrible. My [air conditioner] broke and we are suffering at home. In order for me to repair it, I must pay $3,000. I can't," she said. "I'm not making enough to support my family. An increase in living wage is needed."

If the proposal receives final approval, workers would make more than $13 an hour with health insurance, and companies would have to pay more toward that coverage, by the year 2021.