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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.

At the entrance of what will soon be Pepe Kovanis stood among supporters and the press 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 by Rep. Young. The video of the exchange 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."

William Mansell July 13, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Should Rep. Young apologize?
D. C-K July 14, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Yes. And apologize to all working people not able to make it due to an 'unlivable' minimum wage. Young is earning quite a good life on the back of all workers who pay taxes. His reply and demeanor was so arrogant and dismissive, it should shock every one. If he is too grumpy to do a decent job he should think about bowing his reverence. And retire as the little bourgeois he is.
David Meyer July 14, 2012 at 03:26 PM
For those of you who enjoy the public trough, Bill Young has brought thousands of times his salary and expenses in earmarks to Pinellas County, like $65.9 million in 2010.
Steven A. Williams July 18, 2012 at 05:39 PM
David, You miss the point. It's not how much of an economic benefit Bill Young has been to Pinellas. That's great, but that's not the issue here. Bill Young is out of touch with his constituents, an increasing percentage of whom are forced to rely on the 'public trough' (so now we're livestock?) to get by when their minimum-wage jobs fail to provide an adequate living.

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