The wages of Santa Monica City construction workers will soon be in line with California Labor Code standards, with City Council moving to pass a motion Dec. 18 to enable the alignment.
The City’s current prevailing wage and apprenticeship ordinance requires the payment of prevailing wages and the compliance with apprenticeship requirements for projects that receive federal, state, or local assistance or are built on land leased by the City to private parties; however, certain exemptions for local projects are currently allowed in Santa Monica’s code.
For many years both the state and the City have had separate prevailing wage laws that controlled wages paid on construction contracts, said Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie, during the City Council meeting Dec. 18 at City Hall.
“State law has changed and the new state law is going in to effect Jan. 1, and this is a proposed change in our local ordinance to conform it to the requirements of the new state law,” she said.
The city attorney explained that Santa Monica is required to be congruent with the state on this matter.
The changes in the ordinance will be: a definition of “public works” that matches the definition of “public works” in the Labor Code; substituting the minimum exemption thresholds to match the minimum exemption thresholds in the Labor Code; and eliminating the City Manager’s authority to exempt certain projects based upon currently authorized findings of feasibility.
Currently, the City Manager is authorized to exempt projects from requiring payment of the prevailing wage if the City Manager finds that the payment of prevailing wages results in a lack of bids, increases project costs above 20 percent, or makes a project financially infeasible to develop.
During council discussion on the matter, Councilwoman Sure Himmelrich raised the question of whether Santa Monica workers’ wages are “uniformly greater” than the state minimum requirements.
“Is there an instance where in practicality what we’re doing now is inconsistent with state requirements?” she asked.
City Attorney Jones Moutrie replied: “No, I don’t think so.”
Councilman Ted Winterer moved the motion to pass the first reading of the ordinance, Councilwoman Gleam Davis seconded it. The motion passed unanimously.
The ordinance relates to Chapter 7.28 of the Santa Monica Municipal Code to reach full consistency with the requirements of Senate Bill No. 7, which governs wages paid on locally-funded public works contracts.
The California Labor Code requires that, except as specified, not less than the general prevailing rate of per diem wages, determined by the Director of Industrial Relations, be paid to workers employed on public works projects.