Living Wage advocates resign from County Taskforce in protest
July/August 2002

The Alachua County Living Wage taskforce was appointed by the County Manager and assigned by the County Commission to come up with a way to enact a living wage ordinance in Gainesville. However, it was heavily peopled with members friendly to business and generated an almost unrelated recommendation, according to members of the community group, the Living Wage Coalition, which had first brought the idea of a living wage before the commission.

In early June, Matthew Marsh and Elsie Allen, two of the remaining three Living Wage Coalition members on the Task Force resigned to protest the report generated by the Taskforce.

Below is Matthew Marsh's letter of resignation:

Effective immediately I resign my appointment to the Living Wage Task Force.

My reasons for resigning are as follows.

The Living Wage Task Force is acting outside of its authorized scope by recommending against a living wage ordinance for Alachua County employees. My reading of Resolution 01-97 and your earlier vote in favor of a living wage give me the understanding that the Board's intent is for the Task Force to provide a way to shape a living wage law, not kill it.

The pay increase contained in the Task Force's recommendation would benefit only 26 county employees. While even this tiny raise is good for those few workers, it is a fraud to call it a "living wage". The County Manager, in forming the list of Living WageTask Force nominees for your consideration, made certain that the group's membership would likely vote against any living wage recommendation. Of the nine members and three alternates offered for your ratification, only four were from the list of candidates provided by the Gainesville Living Wage Coalition. At no time has the Task Force contained anything but a super-minority of Living Wage Coalition nominees - never more than one-third of the membership. Contrast this to the membership of The Campaign Finance Reform Committee.

It is not possible for me to allow my name to appear as a member of any group that recommends against the adoption of a living wage law. I do not wish to add legitimacy to such a morally indefensible and socially irresponsible action. I will have no part in denying Alachua County employees - my employees - a true living wage.

Thank you for voting to appoint me to a county task force for the community. I deeply regret that the misguided actions of the task force me to distance myself from the group.

Matthew C. Marsh

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