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Board Approves Chair Fletcher, Supervisor Lawson-Remer Proposal to Set Baseline for Wages, Sick Leave

07/13/21

 

In a move to create a more prosperous region for all, today the County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal from Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer and Chair Nathan Fletcher that will establish fair employment standards for people working on County construction projects or County-owned leased property. 

The ordinance requires that individuals working on County construction projects or at County-owned or leased property are paid wages and provided sick leave that allow them to adequately provide for themselves and their families. Staff will return to the Board within 90 days with a full ordinance based on the proposal approved today. 

“We talk about everyone having a fair shot at the American dream, but until we pay people fair wages for their work that dream will remain out of reach,” said Supervisor Lawson-Remer. “As an economist, I know that when you pay people poorly you trap them in cycles of poverty and hollow out our middle class. Raising baseline pay and benefit standards means more families can earn a decent living and be a part of contributing to our community’s economic recovery and growth.” 

“Fair wages and benefits give working families a solid foundation for personal and professional growth; the policy we passed today sets a new standard for supporting workers in San Diego County,” said Chair Fletcher.   

The proposal comes at a time when there is high interest in leasing pieces of County property, such as Gillespie Field, Otay Mesa, and Palomar Airport. 

Inadequate pay and poor working conditions have a significant adverse impact on the ability of working San Diegans to obtain adequate housing and provide for their families.  

Four of the 10 largest industries in San Diego County do not pay enough for the average individual in that industry to make ends meet, with median wages of less than $30,000 per year, according to a study by the Center on Policy Initiatives. Workers who are paid low wages are more likely to encounter family instability, lack childcare, experience increased stress, and have a greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviors, according to the Coalition on Human Needs. 

The proposed ordinance contains two main provisions: 

County construction projects 

All construction completed pursuant to a County-awarded contract shall: 

  1. Employ a skilled and trained workforce in the completion of the project. 

  2. Pay all employees and subcontractors the higher of prevailing wage rates set by the California Department of Industrial Relations, applicable minimum wage or living wage rates as may be set by the County. 

  3. Provide paid sick leave. 

  4. Not discharge, discriminate, or take adverse action against any worker who discloses concerns about the terms and conditions of employment. 

County-owned leased property

Lessees, licensees, concessionaires, sublessees, and others that have a contract with the County to make use of County-owned property shall: 

  1. Pay all employees and subcontractors at the higher of prevailing wage rates set by the California Department of Industrial Relations, applicable minimum wage or living wage rates as may be set by the County. 

  2. Meet requirements of any County-enacted ordinances or Board policies regulating workplace conditions. 

  3. Provide paid sick leave. 

  4. Not discharge, discriminate, or take adverse action against any worker who discloses concerns about the terms and conditions of employment. 

Exceptions include County construction projects below bidding thresholds or less than $500,000; single craft projects of less than $25,000; circumstances where the County is party to a project labor agreement covering the work; if the Board waives any of these requirements for a particular project or agreement; or housing projects where the County received the underlying proposal or entered into an agreement before the ordinance takes effect.  

The ordinance is intended to serve as a baseline. Higher or more rigorous standards may be applicable for specific types of projects or operations.