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Man Told to 'Get a Job' by Rep. Young Speaks Out

Last week when Pepe Kovanis pressed Congressman Bill Young about minimum wage, Young told him to "get a job". Now Kovanis is asking for an apology from Rep. Young.

Pepe Kovanis stood among supporters and the press in St. Petersburg asking for an apology from Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young. 

"I would like an apology for not only myself but for low wage workers around the country," Kovanis told Patch. "I think he has insulted them with his remarks to ‘get a job’. I think that he has failed his responsibilities as a representative. He is suppose to listen to his constituents not belittle them."

Last week, Kovanis was protesting for the increase of minimum wage. He pressed Young about minimum wage in Florida and was promptly told to "get a job" by Rep. Young.  went viral, which led to Young saying he did not understand the nature of Kovanis' question. 

The exchange, which was captured on video, was first highlighted by FLDemocracy and also reported by The Huffington Post:

"Jesse Jackson Jr. is passing a bill around to increase the minimum wage to 10 bucks an hour. Would you support that?" said the voter. 

"Probably not," replied Young, adding, "How about getting a job?"

The young man has a job, as he told the congressman: "I do have one." He said he makes $8.50 an hour.

"Well then, why do you want that benefit? Get a job," reiterated Young.

Florida's minimum wage pays $7.67 an hour, slightly above the federal level of $7.25.

According to 10 News, Young said while he didn't understand the question, he would not support raising minimum wage to $10 an hour. 

"I misunderstood the question, but the no answer would have been the same because a 35 percent increase in the minimum wage would destroy many small businesses."

On Friday, Kovanis said it is important that people who work 40 hours a week deserve a living wage. The current minimum wage, he said, does not afford that. 

"My whole life I’ve worked minimum wage jobs. I know what it’s like to struggle working these kind of jobs," Kovanis told Patch. "It's very difficult just to get by let alone to get ahead … It’s almost impossible."

He said while $10 is not great, it is much better than what is available now. 

"It’s a livable wage. It would definitely benefit anyone who is making under it," he said. "It would increase the quality of life for millions of people. It would help out our local economy. Give people extra spending money and they in turn would use at our local businesses, who in turn would hire more people." 

Kovanis is now attempting to take his financial future into his own hands by starting his own business. Last week Kovanis started Edible Gardens, which is an organic gardening and sustainable living company.

Edible Gardens, Kovanis said, installs organic flowerbeds for customers and sells organic products. 

Once he starts hiring employees, Kovanis said, "I will pay them above and beyond minimum wage."

Terry Hopkins July 15, 2012 at 01:54 PM
This is Really news, a political activist "Speaks out". This guys wants a 35% increase in the minumum wage and is wondering out loud why anyone would be against it. I think personally he needs to spend more time AT WORK and less time being a political activist.
Merrill July 15, 2012 at 02:47 PM
@ Terry...when minimum wage is NOT fair, it costs taxpayers more in supplying services to those who are defined as "working poor". Housing, food, health care are all exxential to life and even when working TWO minimumwage jobs this is almost impossible. FYI, small business generally are better paying than WalMart, etc who try never to pay more than the minimum wage. How much do YOU think it takes to live a minimal existance? Then try it! Congressman Young has been in his job too long...look at his voting record has been shameful in not protecting his constituents. And he is one of the "Kings" of the earmark... Vote for some new blood from Florida in Congress...PLEASE.
rick barasso July 15, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I was wondering how the Right was going to try to spin this, so a rude uninformed politician was justfied in belittling an American woker and a costituent. And the're off!!!!!!!!
Maryellen Farinas July 15, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Rick, nothing to do with right or left. Merrill is right in that the bigger corporations are the ones that pay less, but then the employees are less skilled and these companies require less training for menial jobs. If someone wants to make better wages they need to get educated, find a trade. I don't understand Mr. Kovac's complaint particularly in light of his own admission that he's "always worked for minimum wage". He certainly looks old enough to have held a few jobs. Isn't there something wrong with that picture?
rick barasso July 16, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Mary, It has everything to do with Right and Left. The left understand that even the "less skilled" workers need to make a living wage, if one could live on $10 per hour. The right wants to pay the American worker as little as possible or send those jobs overseas, where they can pay slave wages. All while giving tax breaks to the wealthy and paying CEOs 3,4,5, and 6 hundred times what the average worker for the company makes. Let me ask you, how many CEO's rely on there automobiles to get to work? Should the person responsible for getting the CEO to his job be paid less than $10 an hour? You don't understand Mr. Kovacs "complaint"? I believe asking "his" representative if he would support a raise in the minimum wage to a "living" wage would be considered a "complaint". The fact of the matter is, Mr Young was disinterested, rude, uniformed, and bigoted.
Michael D. July 16, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Rick, What you don't understand once the minimum wage is raised to a $10 an hour, it will no longer be fit to live on. All the products and services will raise in costs for corporations to recoup that cost, so the value of that $10 will be the same as what the value of $7.67 is now. The problem isn't the bottom value, minimum wage has risen over 76% in the last 12 years and the real value of the dollar has dropped 40% in that time. Raising the minimum wage hurts the middle class, because they will not get that raise when minimum wage rises. Their dollar will be worth less, once the market resets itself for the new costs. So a work who is now making $20 an hours will have a real value of the dollar of $15 in today's dollars. So by this logic, Lets raise the minimum wage, so the people making minimum wage will have the same purchasing power in 3 months. The middle class can have a drop in their purchasing power. And the upper class, can write off the difference on their taxes due to increased business expense. So the only people who are helping on the Upper Teir of citizens, or as you would like to point out the Right.

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