Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prevailing Wage Bill Voted Up

A measure that would force business that use a publically supported facility to pay a prevailing wage was given preliminary approval in Pittsburgh City Council today but a slew of amendments are expected to be added to the final bill when council votes again next week. Both councilman Patrick Dowd and Councilman Bill Peduto showed council members long lists of amendments that they felt would help to clarify the measure while at the same time not gutting it of its intention. Dowd choose to introduce each of his 17 amendments one at a time during the meeting. Each was quickly tabled before there could be any debate. Peduto took a different approach. He gave the members amendments he said he had been working on up until the last minute and the promised to have them read for a vote next week. He urged members to vote for the bill in its raw form and trust that the amendments would be ready as to not slow the process. It is unusual for this council to amend bills at the time of the final vote. Most of the changes are done at the committee level. The amendments deal with everything from making sure it is clear that the bill does not apply to restaurants and is not retro active, to defining who must earn the prevailing wage and when the law goes into effect. Peduto says he has vetted his amendments with both developers and unions and has found favor. He says more than 120 US city have similar laws and many of them are even stronger. He notes than many call for “living wage” which is usually higher than the “prevailing wage” set in this bill. Council President, who began the push or the ordinance, says he has meet with several business owners and developers who were initially concerned by the bill and when he finishes explaining the measure he says hey usually says, “that all?” Some developers and the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority say the law would scare away business and stifle development.

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