Prevailing wage bill for charter cities inches closer to governor
Municipal leaders in charter cities like Grass Valley and Truckee are hoping if a prevailing wage bill reaches the governor’s desk, the state leader will make use of the veto.
“The governor has said he doesn’t want to erode local control,” said Grass Valley Councilwoman Jan Arbuckle. “So when it gets to his desk, will he sign it? I don’t know.”
Coauthored by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Senate Bill 7 would require charter cities to adopt prevailing wage practices or become ineligible to receive or use state funds for other public works projects.
Prevailing wages are the basic hourly rate, including benefits and overtime, paid to the majority of workers on public works projects in a particular craft or type of work within an area or the nearest labor market area.
On state prevailing wage projects, all bidders are required to use the same wage rates when bidding on a public works project, a tactic aimed at prohibiting a contractor from underbidding competitors by cutting the wages of their workers.
SB 7 garnered state senate approval May 28 and is awaiting an Aug. 14 Assembly Labor and Employment Committee hearing. Opponents point out that bill is sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, potentially increasing the likelihood of its garnering the support of a labor committee, Arbuckle said.
“Nobody has a real feel for it,” said Arbuckle, who sits on the board of directors of the League of California Cities. “We will be lobbying for them not to sign it.”
While the practice is already mandated on local projects using state or federal funding, if SB 7 is passed, it would require charter cities to adopt the same pay rules even when a project is funded locally or lose funds for other public works projects.
“People are focused on prevailing wage, whether it is a good thing or not,” Arbuckle said. “People should be focused on the fact that this is the state getting their foot in the door to take more power away from charter cities.”
A charter city is one where its governing system is defined by the city’s own charter document, rather than by the state, according to the League of California Cities’ website.
Becoming a charter city allows voters to determine how their city government is organized and, with respect to municipal affairs, enact legislation different than that adopted by the state.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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