NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. — Municipal leaders in charter cities and towns like Grass Valley and Truckee are hoping if a prevailing wage bill reaches the governor’s desk, the state’s leader will veto it.
Coauthored by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Senate Bill 7 would require charter cities and towns to adopt prevailing wage practices or become ineligible to receive or use state funds for other public works projects.
Prevailing wages are the basic hourly rate, including benefits and overtime, paid to the majority of workers on public works projects in a particular craft or type of work within an area or the nearest labor market area.
On state prevailing wage projects, all bidders are required to use the same wage rates when bidding on a public works project, a tactic aimed at prohibiting a contractor from underbidding competitors by cutting the wages of their workers.
“The governor has said he doesn’t want to erode local control,” said Grass Valley Councilwoman Jan Arbuckle. “So when it gets to his desk, will he sign it? I don’t know.”
SB 7 garnered state senate approval May 28 and is awaiting an Aug. 14 Assembly Labor and Employment Committee hearing. Opponents point out that bill is sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, potentially increasing the likelihood of its garnering the support of a labor committee, Arbuckle said.
“Nobody has a real feel for it,” said Arbuckle, who sits on the board of directors of the League of California Cities. “We will be lobbying for them not to sign it.”
While the practice is already mandated on local projects using state or federal funding, if SB 7 is passed, it would require charter cities to adopt the same pay rules even when a project is funded locally or lose funds for other public works projects.
“(SB 7) is really contrary to the charter the Truckee voters enacted almost 18 years ago,” Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said in June.
A charter city is one in which its governing system is defined by the city’s own charter document, rather than by the state, according to the League of California Cities’ website.
Becoming a charter city allows voters to determine how their city government is organized and, with respect to municipal affairs, enact legislation different than that adopted by the state.