The Sacramento Bee published an editorial today (July 11, 2012) entitled “Will Cities Seize the Opportunity of Wage Ruling?” that urges charter cities to “seize the opportunity” and free themselves from costly state-mandated construction wage rates (also known as “prevailing wages”). It is the latest of numerous articles, editorials, blogs, and opinion pieces describing this court decision as a turning point for local governments seeking to provide adequate public services at a competitive and reasonable price. See my compilation of these articles here.
Regarding the July 2 California Supreme Court decision in State Building and Construction Trades Council v. City of Vista confirming the right of charter cities to establish their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates, the Bee says the following:
…charter cities in California that use their own money to build new fire stations, libraries, sewer systems or other municipal facilities can ignore the state’s prevailing wage law.
The ruling is a blow to organized labor but a boon to taxpayers. If they have the political will to take advantage of it, struggling municipal governments can save a lot of money.
Do elected officials in charter cities have the political will to develop their own city prevailing wage policies, or even simply to exempt their purely municipal construction projects from state-mandated construction wage rates? They should proceed to do so, at least until the California State Legislature approves more reasonable definitions of public works through Assembly Bill 987 and approves more accurate methods of calculating prevailing wage through Assembly Bill 988? These two comprehensive, detailed, well-informed bills were introduced by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) but rejected in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on party-line votes (Democrats opposed, Republicans in support) on January 4, 2012. These bills need to be reconsidered!
Cities such as Costa Mesa and Escondido and Grover Beach [added August 19, 2012 – ed.] are definitely asking their citizens to approve robust, assertive charters. The cities of Temecula, Murrieta, Arroyo Grande, and Grover Beach are seriously considering asking their citizens to do the same. Several cities that already have charters are preparing to establish their own government-mandated construction wage policies.
Yes, unions will aggressively and viciously oppose any effort by the citizens of local governments to escape the oppressive mandates of the California State Legislature, long dominated by foolish union puppets from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Their opposition only confirms that city charters are a very powerful and meaningful way to assert local authority over local matters and provide public services at a better price for ordinary taxpayers.