ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s the amendment many say will change their lives and finally give them a living wage.
Amendment 2 will raise the minimum wage in Florida to $15 an hour. It will happen in stages so the process will take until 2026 to get to that amount.
While many workers in the service industry are saying it’s about time, others are saying we shouldn’t be so quick to celebrate because it could have dire consequences for businesses. Some say those businesses will have to cut jobs and raise prices on products, leaving the consumer digging deeper into their wallets.
But, the man firmly behind this fight, high profile attorney John Morgan, said the threat of layoffs and price hikes are just scare tactics.
Morgan, who also led the fight to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, also put his name and $6 million of his money behind Amendment 2.
Morgan joined News 6 anchors Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin on this week’s edition of Florida’s Fourth Estate to talk about why he led the fight to get the issue on the ballot.
Always a colorful guest and not one to hold back, Morgan said once he decided to tackle the issue, he first looked at his own staff at Morgan & Morgan, where he employs some 4,000 people. He said once they found out from human resources what was going to happen the response was tearful jubilation.
He did not get the same reaction from some of his business partners.
Morgan, who also owns restaurants, hotels, and attractions, told Austin and Gadsden some of his partners didn’t agree with his stance on raising the minimum wage.
“One of my partners was very pissed off about this. He lives up in Panama City Beach and he called me up and says all of my friends have found out that you’re my partner and I don’t think I am going to be able to get served in a restaurant for the rest of my life,” Morgan explained.
And in true Morgan fashion, he had some advice for his partner: "I said ‘well, tell them go (expletive) themselves. You don’t need them.’”
As crass as that may sound, Morgan said he really is for the people.
He said it’s a simple concept: If you have the means to help others, then you should.
Morgan is a good man to have in your corner, until he isn’t.
Someone he helped but later regretted supporting was Andrew Gillum. Gillum was the first Black candidate for governor in Florida history. As the Democratic party nominee in 2018, Gillum came close to beating Republican Ron DeSantis.
Gillum was mayor of Tallahassee from 2014 to 2018 and quickly became a darling of the democratic party. Almost as quickly as he came into prominence, his star power was swallowed up by forces akin to an unpredictable Florida sinkhole.
In March, police were called to a Miami hotel room where they found Gillum, two men and some crystal meth. Gillum was not arrested.
Only recently has Gillum returned to the spotlight and opened about his battle with addiction.
Looking back at his support for Gillum, Morgan said, “I made a gigantic mistake because I didn’t know who he was. I was excited at the time because I thought what a wonderful thing. You have this this articulate, smart, handsome candidate who happens to be African American in a southern state. What a wonderful idea for Florida.”
Morgan said he raised more than a million and a half dollars for Gillium when he was running against DeSantis.
It was a last-minute request for $250,000 from Gillum that ultimately ended their friendship. Morgan said he wrote Gillium a check but later learned he didn’t use the money for campaign advertising.
He said when he confronted Gillum about the money, Gillum told him he wasn’t allowed to use it.
Morgan said he told Gillum, “If you didn’t use it, give it back.”
Morgan went on to say, “He used the money on his legal and himself, traveling around and getting into all sorts of trouble. And at the end of the day the guy had a meltdown, down there in Miami and I feel sorry for him because I have a real good idea of what’s going on with Andrew Gillum and what I would say to Andrew Gillum is until he decides to be true to who he really is and what he is, that he’ll never find peace.”
Just as the wide-ranging conversation on Florida’s Fourth Estate was wrapping up, Austin asked Morgan about his fundraising efforts for former Vice President Joe Biden.
Morgan said he considers Biden a close friend and while having huge fundraisers in his home during a pandemic wasn’t possible, he did say he considers himself to be one of Biden’s top donors.
Fun fact: Biden and Morgan both have German shepherds.
Emma, Morgan’s German shepherd, has appeared in commercials, on billboards and buses. Champ, is Biden’s pooch.
Morgan laments about what beautiful puppies Emma and Champ would produce.
Morgan also has some other pretty interesting things to say about Emma.
If you want to hear more from Morgan, download this week’s edition of Florida’s Fourth Estate.
Florida’s Fourth Estate looks at everything from swampy politics to a fragile environment and even the crazy headlines that make Florida the craziest state in the Union.
Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin use decades of experience as journalists to dissect the headlines that impact Florida. Each week they have a guest host who helps give an irreverent look at the issues impacting the Sunshine State. Big influencers, like Attorney John Morgan, renowned Florida journalists and the scientists protecting Florida’s ecosystem, can often be found as guests.
Look for new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.