Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Politics

Supervisors OK First Steps Towards Construction Wage Ordinance

A construction worker repaving North Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego on May 12, 2020.
Roland Lizarondo
A construction worker repaving North Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego on May 12, 2020.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the first steps towards an ordinance that would establish fair employment standards for those working on county construction projects or county-owned leased property.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer proposed the ordinance that would require construction project workers to be paid wages that would allow them to adequately provide for themselves and their families and be provided sick leave.

According to a statement released by both supervisors, the ordinance would allow them "to adequately provide for themselves and their families."

"We talk about everyone having a fair shot at the American dream, but until we pay people fair wages for their work that dream will remain out of reach," Lawson-Remer said.

"As an economist, I know that when you pay people poorly you trap them in cycles of poverty and hollow out our middle class."

Fletcher added the proposal "sets a new standard for supporting workers in San Diego County."

County staff will return to the board within 90 days with a full ordinance based on the proposal.

For construction completed on a county-awarded contract, the ordinance proposes:

— Employing a skilled and trained workforce in the completion of the project;

— Paying all employees and subcontractors the higher of prevailing wage rates set by the state Department of Industrial Relations, applicable minimum wage or living wage rates as may be set by the county;

— Providing paid sick leave, and;

— Not discharging, discriminating or taking adverse action against any worker who voices concerns about the terms and conditions of employment.

For county-owned leased property, the ordinance would require:

— Paying all employees and subcontractors at the higher of prevailing wage rates set by the state Department of Industrial Relations, applicable minimum wage or living wage rates as may be set by the county;

— Meeting requirements of any county-enacted ordinances or board policies regulating workplace conditions;

— Providing paid sick leave, and;

— Not discharging discriminating or taking adverse action against a worker who voices concerns about employment terms and conditions.

The ordinance would provide exceptions, including projects below bidding thresholds or less than $500,000, single-craft projects less than $25,000, or circumstances where the county is party to a project labor agreement covering the work.

Before the board voted, the proposal received support from labor union representatives.

"It's time for workers to be at the center of equity compensation," said Rick Bates, a research analyst with Unite Here Local 30.