By Miriam Raftery
Photo: CC via Bing
February 25, 2022 (San Diego) – By a 3-2 vote, San Diego County Supervisors approved a Working Families Ordinance on Feb. 8. The measure requires payment of prevailing wages and use of a skilled, trained workforce on construction projects over $1 million on county lands. It also brings sick leave requirements in line with state standards.
A second reading is set for March 1st. if approved then, it will go into effect 30 days later on new contracts or projects up for renewal.
The measure as first introduced by Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Chair Nathan Fletcher in July 2021. Nora Vargas joined with them to pass the measure, which was opposed by Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond.
Fletcher and Lawson-Remer issued a statement after the vote.
“Today, the County took action to ensure that public lands yield public benefits. With the passage of the Working Families Ordinance, we voted to guarantee adequate workplace protections in alignment with state policy and regional needs. Today’s action will reduce working poverty and promote economic sustainability for families throughout our region.”
Supervisor Anderson issued this statement on his opposition to the measure. “The land near Gillespie airport is surrounded by some of the poorest areas in my district and San Diego County. These people have endured loss of work due to COVID, supply chain difficulties, and now the county’s proposed ordinance. After reading all three economic impact studies, I cannot support this ordinance. I am not willing to sacrifice long-term careers for the sake of short-term jobs.” Anderson’s staff provided a link to a video of Anderson further explaining his vote: https://youtu.be/-dyGk7qoPi8
The staff report indicates staff engaged stakeholders for feedback, reach out to over 882 businesses and community members.
The report acknowledges that some are small businesses in disadvantaged communities, adding that “The burden of increased costs due to implementing a wage floor and increased benefit costs, may cause some businesses to close or relocated off County-owned property. This could result in the unintended consequence of employees being laid off, which could potentially have a disproportionate impact on low income and/or black, indigenous people of color (BIPOC). However, if the businesses were able to pay the age floor and associated benefits, this could increase the standard of living for those same low income or BIPOC employees…”
Supervisors opted against adopting a wage floor, for now, until more stakeholder input is gathered specifically on that issue, according to Fletcher and Lawson-Remer.
Staff reports can be found for the measure, agenda item 17, at https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/cob/bosa/bos-calendar-meetings.html?date=02/08/2022&meetingtype=BOARD%20OF%20SUPERVISORS