There’s a chink in Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan’s reputation as Florida’s champion for the $15 minimum wage.
The Democratic "maybe candidate" for governor, despite energetically using the hot-button “Fight for 15” campaign issue as a major rallying cry, apparently isn’t putting his money where his mouth is.
As multiple job-posting websites attest, some of his own employees’ paychecks fall short of $15 an hour.
What happened to the resolve of the man who said last Jan. 13, “Minimum wage in America is a joke. You can’t live on $7 or $8 an hour ...”?
Jobs listed for Morgan & Morgan in Orlando on Glasssdoor.com, include, for example, an “office runner” salaried at $12 an hour. Another site, Indeed.com, offered call center positions for the Morgan firm at $11 an hour.
When Orlando Weekly confronted Morgan with this discovery, he hit the roof – with expletives omitted here.
“I can tell what angle you're getting at with this story," said Morgan in the phone interview. “I bet you don't make $25,000 a year." He also said Morgan & Morgan employees have other means of earning, such as bonuses.
Orlando Weekly has screen caps with the salaries listed in the original job postings, but since the interview with Morgan, those wages no longer are included in the ads.
“This all needs context,” he said, explaining the lower-paid jobs entail often entry-level duties, and there is high turnover in the early stages of employment.
Morgan tried to bolster his contradiction by noting his offices should be praised because they did not ship these cellar positions overseas. It's a frequent point made when the debate comes up that, should Florida boost the current minimum wage by more than 75 percent, many of these types of jobs will move offshore.
But there are other indicators that, for Morgan, this is not about supplying “living wages” but is instead a political ploy he wants his name attached to, for vote acquisition.
This past summer, while discussing his latest initiative (Morgan was also the catalyst of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment), the lawyer was touting a wage hike to $14 an hour.
Why the moving figure within his pet issue? As it turns out, political expediency is more important than a “proper” hourly wage. Morgan has to work two sides of the political spectrum to achieve the goal of attaching his name to the cause.
As Politico notes, "Democrats would love the amendment on the ballot next year because, as Morgan said, this will 'juice turnout' by appealing to a broad swath of Florida’s teeming masses of service-sector workers."
At the same time Morgan cannot take that dollar figure too high, or he risks missing the ballot entirely. He is initiating polling right now to help him determine the dollar amount that will earn the widest segment of voter support. He needs more than 766,000 petition signatures for the "Living Wage" issue to appear on that ballot, then net 60 percent voter support. That makes it a matter of voter comfort over humanitarian largesse.
This public relations maneuvering displays pure political ploy, one intended to bolster Morgan’s name for his bid for higher office. The fact that he does not actively participate in the minimum wage threshold at the moment only underscores where the priority rests as far as workers’ needs are concerned. Too bad it flies under the radar.
Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer who wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.