Committee votes to close living wage loophole

Thursday, December 17, 2015
by Vicky Garza

 

 

City Council’s Economic Opportunity Committee approved a resolution at its meeting on Monday that would effectively close a loophole that allows some city contractors to avoid paying workers a living wage.

Both Bob Batlan, of Austin Interfaith, and Emily Timm, deputy director of Workers Defense Project, spoke in favor of the resolution.

“This is simply closing a loophole that currently allows bad actors to subcontract out and not comply with that living wage standard,” said Timm. She added that the requirements will ultimately “protect responsible contractors who are doing their best to comply with the city’s living wage standards that are already in place in the purchasing department.”

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AISD Adopts Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Schedule, Plans to Conduct Living Wage Floor Study

In a split vote at its June 16 meeting, Austin ISD’s board of trustees adopted the federal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage schedule as the schedule AISD uses to pay construction workers, and the board pledged to conduct an additional study to determine a living wage for workers.
Pipe fitters, laborers and representatives from Austin Interfaith and AISD employees union Education Austin urged the board to adopt Davis-Bacon and stop using what they called an outdated wage rate schedule, while others called Davis-Bacon “flawed” and asked the board to postpone the vote.

Kayvon Sabourian, an attorney with the Austin nonprofit Equal Justice Center, has said the state allows school districts two options-adopting federal wage rates or conducting a wage rates study. The board in January approved a consent agenda item to put its own study in place, and AISD currently uses wage rates based on a study conducted in 2005, he said.

Sabourian told the board he has represented construction workers whose prevailing wage rates have been violated on AISD projects.

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Austin Council Standing Up For Prevailing Wages

 J.W. Marriot developer, White Lodging, is in hot water for breaking a City of Austin contract by underpaying workers.The company received $3.8 million in tax breaks. Now council is giving them two options, pay the lost wages or pay back the city millions.Workers Defense Project spokesperson Patricia Zavala says they blew the whistle on the company. City auditors checked the numbers and found at least 13 employees were underpaid. Then the city ordered the developer to pay back the laborers in February, and then it was extended in March, then June.

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