Articles Posted in Prevailing Wage

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By Jon Welner

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PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose. It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars–and can be brought years after construction is complete.

The federal prevailing wage statute, known as “Davis-Bacon,” has been in place for over eighty years. In essence, it requires that union wages be paid on all federal construction projects.

Over the years, there have been occasional efforts to weaken or eliminate the Davis-Bacon Act, but none have been successful. The last major effort was during the Reagan Administration. In addition, a number of presidents have temporarily suspended Davis-Bacon during public emergencies, as President Bush did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. More recently, bills to repeal Davis-Bacon were introduced in the House and Senate in 2015 (H.R.987 & S.1785). But with Democrats firmly in control of the Senate and the White House, the bills were purely symbolic efforts.

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Published on:

By Jon Welner

welner.jpg

PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose. It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars–and can be brought years after construction is complete.

U.S. Court of Appeals Reinstates Law That Makes Deliveries of Concrete Subject to California Prevailing Wage (AB 219)

Published on:

By Jon Welner

welner.jpg

PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose. It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars–and can be brought years after construction is complete.

The Number of Charter Cities Exempt from Prevailing Wage Has Dropped from 52 to Almost None in Less Than Two Years

A charter city is a city that governs itself by adopting a “charter”–sort of a municipal constitution–rather than by complying with general state laws. California has 121 charter cities (out of a total of 482 cities).

In California, charter cities have supreme control over their own “municipal affairs.” This means that charter city ordinances and regulations supersede all state laws with regard to local matters. State Building & Construction Trades Council of California v. City of Vista (2012) 54 Cal. 4th 547, 555-556 (“City of Vista”).

This power also applies to prevailing wage. In City of Vista, the California Supreme Court held that charter cities are free to decide whether or not they want to apply State Prevailing Wage Law to locally funded public works:
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Published on:

By Jon Welner

welner.jpg

PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose. It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars–and can be brought years after construction is complete.

U.S. District Court Suspends New Law that Made Deliveries of Concrete Subject to California Prevailing Wage (AB 219)

In a surprise move, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles issued an Order today blocking implementation of AB 219, a new statute that added the delivery of ready-mix concrete to the growing list of activities covered by California Prevailing Wage Law. (Please see my prior post on AB 219 for additional background.)

AB 219 was passed last year and took effect on July 1, 2016. The new law imposed massive new burdens on the ready-mix industry, including complex new record-keeping and tracking requirements. On June 30, 2016, a group of eight ready-mix companies filed a lawsuit challenging the new statute as a violation of Equal Protection and federal law. The Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction on October 18, 2016.
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Published on:

By Jon Welner

welner.jpg

PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose. It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars–and can be brought years after construction is complete.

AB 219 Expands Prevailing Wage To Include Deliveries of Ready-Mix Concrete

Since the 1930s, prevailing wages have applied only to construction work, not to the manufacture or delivery of construction supplies.

In California this distinction was made explicit in 1976, when the Court of Appeal held that “materialmen” and “employees of materialmen” who sell supplies to the general public are exempt from prevailing wage law; and “the delivery of standard materials” to a public work is not subject to prevailing wage. O. G. Sansone Co. v. Department of Transportation (1976) 55 Cal. App. 3d 438, 442-443.

Simply put: prevailing wage has always applied to the bricklayer, not to the bricks.

Until now. Last year, the California Legislature passed and the Governor signed AB 219, which extends prevailing wage requirements to the delivery of ready-mix concrete to public works. The bill was codified as Labor Code Section 1720.9.
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Published on:

By Jon Welner
welner.jpg

PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose. It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars–and can be brought years after construction is complete.

The Way DIR Calculates Prevailing Wage Rates Ensures that the “Prevailing Wage” Is Almost Always a “Union Wage”

“Prevailing wage” is a misnomer. Contrary to what the name implies, the prevailing wage is not the wage rate prevailing in a given area. That is the “market rate.” Rather, the prevailing wage rate is generally the rate that union workers get paid in a specified area, which is much higher than the market rate.
Continue reading

Published on:

By Jon Welner
welner.jpg

PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose. It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars–and can be brought years after construction is complete.

Even if you think your project is private, it still might be a “Public Work” subject to Prevailing Wage in California!

Five Traps to Avoid
California Prevailing Wage Law applies to any project “paid for in whole or in part out of public funds.”

Prior to 2002, this was easy to understand. Public funds were public funds. If a project received cash from a state or local agency, it was a “public work” subject to prevailing wage.
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Published on:

welner.jpg
By Jon Welner

PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose. It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars–and can be brought years after construction is complete.

welner oil.jpgFor the first time, some private projects are covered by California Prevailing Wage Law. Hospitals, refineries, and chemical plants are covered.