Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Prevailing Wage: Good for Workers Or Bad for Business?

Allegheny County Council is scheduled to vote this evening on a prevailing wage bill and since a majority of the members are co-sponsors, it's expected to pass. The measure, similar to one passed by Pittsburgh Council in February, sets minimum pay levels for hotel, janitorial, food service and grocery workers at future development projects that receive county assistance. The pay would be the average for similar jobs in Allegheny County. It would only apply to developments that receive at least $100,000 in county assistance including grocery stores with a minimum of 25,000 retail square feet, real estate projects of 100,000 square feet or more, and housing developments with at least 50 units.
Labor, faith and community organizations plan to rally in favor of the measure at the County Courthouse before this evening's vote.
Gabe Morgan, the Western Pennsylvania Director of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, says workers and families in the county would definitely benefit...
"when you're using taxpayer dollars to finance or develop large-scale properties, obviously it's everyone's goal to create the best jobs possible."

Councilman Matt Drozd is a staunch opponent and says the bill might be illegal and pre-empted by state legislative oversight. Drozd says it's another unnecessary ordinance that make Allegheny County unfriendly to business......"When you try to dictate to the free enterprise system the wages they should be paying or the cost of materials or where they should be buying them, it increases the cost for business for Allegheny County."

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