By RAMONA GIWARGIS
PUBLISHED: October 24, 2017 at 1:09 pm | UPDATED: October 25, 2017 at 4:54 am
SAN JOSE — City lawmakers on Tuesday adopted a policy that requires contractors to hire at least some union workers on public projects valued at $6 million or more, including new libraries, fire stations and airport improvements.
The City Council adopted “project labor agreements” requirement on a 6-5 vote. The agreements require a contractor to hire some workers from a local union hall and pay state-mandated prevailing wages — what a majority of workers in a county’s largest city earn. Contractors also must provide fringe benefits and hire a number of apprentices from disadvantaged groups. Contractors will be allowed to hire 35 “core” workers from their own workforce with the rest hired through a union hall.
Private construction projects, those funded by federal dollars and city-funded affordable housing projects will be excluded. Santa Clara County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Cleveland and New York have all passed similar labor agreements.
Backers said the agreements will help ensure every worker has a fair chance of getting work and support families struggling to survive in Silicon Valley’s technology-driven economy. Critics said the move will stifle competition and inflate construction costs, meaning taxpayers get fewer public improvements for their tax dollars.