State Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) announced new legislation Tuesday which would close a loophole allowing charter cities to not pay prevailing wage rates on public works projects.
The new measure, Senate Bill 7, would not allow charter cities to receive or use state funds on public works projects unless they comply with the State’s prevailing wage law.
For more than 50 years, municipalities have been required to pay a state-mandated fair wage to construction workers. But charter cities, which are governed under self-adopted charters rather than state laws, are exempted from the requirement.
Of the 121 charter cities in California, only 70 comply with the prevailing wage law.
According to Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who co-authored the bill, the measure would create jobs.
“Continuing California’s economic growth depends on creating more middle class jobs, especially in the construction industry that was hit so hard during the Great Recession,” Steinberg said. “Low wage contractors cut costs by cutting corners, but the data shows that they’re not saving public money. We can’t afford to shortchange workers and taxpayers by ignoring the economic net benefit of California’s prevailing wage law.”
A 2011 Colorado State University study comparing two Northern California construction projects found that taxpayers paid less for public projects when building with prevailing wage, while sending drastically more work to local contractors.
SB7 would exempt construction contracts under $25,000 in value, or maintenance, installation, or repair contracts under $15,000 in value.