San Jose: Public projects valued at $6 million will require project labor agreements

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.

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To Combat Wage Theft, San Jose Weighs Local Ordinance

By Jennifer Wadsworth / April 15, 2015


Taking a cue from Santa Clara County, San Jose is considering adopting a wage theft ordinance. The city rule would deny permits, licenses and government contracts to businesses with pending wage theft violations.

In a proposal submitted to the Rules and Open Government Committee, City Council members Don Rocha, Margie Matthews, Ash Kalra and Magdalena Carrasco say local enforcement would will regulatory gaps that leave thousands of low-wage workers under-paid with little recourse.

They share the story of a live-in caregiver, Priscilla Soriano, who worked 12-hour days six days a week, but never got paid overtime. In 2011, she filed a complaint with the state Labor Commission, which ruled that the employer owed her $64,904 in unpaid wages.

Between 2011 and 2014, nearly 1,100 San Jose-based businesses were slapped with wage theft judgments, according to Santa Clara County Superior Court records cited in the Rules memo. Women, immigrants and anyone working a low-wage job are the most at-risk.

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