Houston Is Being Rebuilt on a Foundation of Wage Theft (TX)

The exploitation after the storm.

JANUARY 22, 2018

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a measure that would require a $15 an hour minimum wage for employees of some contractors.

The bill would apply to companies in professional service contracts with the city over $100,000.

According to data from the City Controller’s Office, 31 contracts over $100,000 were approved in 2015. Most were related to construction projects, health care and software upgrades.

When the measure was introduced on Monday, Nov. 20, Mayor Bill Peduto said implementing it would have a minimal effect on the cost of contracts and the city’s finances.

“We want to work with companies that also believe a worker’s value should be a minimum of $15 an hour,” he said. “We are hoping this will be the standard for which Pittsburgh companies will recognize the worth of their workers.”

Peduto said this was the second part of a city wage plan that began in November 2015, when he signed an executive order to gradually increase minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour by 2021. It’s currently $12.50.

Wage theft and safety violations were rampant in Houston’s low-wage construction industry even before the storm hit, according to local worker centers. One study found that 12.4 percent of construction workers in the city suffered injuries on the job. “The Texas construction industry is … incredibly dangerous,” says José Garza, executive director of the Workers Defense Project. “For years, the industry has absolutely failed to prioritize safety.”

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