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Council to mandate that contractors pay prevailing wage

Thursday, June 5, 2008 by Austin Monitor

The Austin City Council today will consider a resolution that would affect the wages paid by contractors performing construction work on projects developed as part of a public-private partnership, such as the Seaholm Power Plant site or the Green Water Treatment Plant. Council Members Lee Leffingwell, Mike Martinez, and Brewster McCracken want companies working on those projects to pay the local prevailing wage to their employees.


The prevailing wage, set by the U.S. Department of Labor in each market, is the hourly rate paid to workers within the same occupation. Municipalities and school districts across the country frequently require contractors on government projects to pay that wage to their employees.


The Council has already established policies requiring workers in most city jobs to be paid above the federally mandated minimum wage. “We believe we should treat our employees fairly,” said Martinez. “What we didn’t envision was how many third-party agreements we enter into with joint venture projects. We didn’t specifically speak to those jobs earning a prevailing wage.”


In future projects, “contractors that are doing the work for us, we’re going to ask them to provide a prevailing wage to their employees if they’re in a joint venture agreement with the City of Austin,” Martinez said.


While that has the potential to affect the cost of projects, Martinez said, it is important for the city set an example in the labor market. “It’s simply a value that the Council has stated is important in the projects that we do; very similar to values such as affordability, Green building, or open space,” he said. “Taking care of our work-force is another value.”

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