Monday, January 25, 2010

Workers Continue to Fight for Prevailing Wage

A public hearing on the prevailing wage bill was held today in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers.
Before the hearing, workers from grocery stores, hotels and universities rallied to urge Council to approve the legislation.
Reverend John Welch, President of Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, says the people were given a gift when city council unanimously approved the prevailing wage legislation, but that gift was taken away in “grinch-like fashion” by the mayor. Mayor Ravenstahl vetoed the measure December 31st, but then introduced his own prevailing wage bill, which would include fewer developments and only take effect if the county approves similar rules.
Welch says a coalition of faith leaders, union leaders and community leaders have joined again to urge council to make the same decision they did in December.
A Giant Eagle employee, Mark Mancini says development should be helping people out of poverty, not putting people into it.
Bridget Noel, an overnight cleaner for the University of Pittsburgh says she used to work at a grocery store making $7.35 an hour, barely supporting herself and her three children. Now, she has a steady job, owns a home and is sending her children to college.
She says that’s what a prevailing wage is about—living instead of struggling.
During the hearing, the President of Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Dewitt Peart said the private sector is not necessarily opposed to the bill but council did not engage them in developing the measure. He asked for the opportunity to sit down with council to improve the legislation so there are no negative impacts.
Tom Link, an employee with Urban Redevelopment Authority says he fears entrepreneurs will reject Pittsburgh as a site due to the ambiguity of this bill.
Councilman Doug Shields, co-sponsor of the bill, says this legislation is here to make sure that all residents have the opportunity to live a life that at least promises a better future, and that’s what this bill will do.
Council is to take a preliminary vote Wednesday.

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