First, the rules as we know them.
*Federal-the minimum wage of $7.25/hour was set in 2009. This was right in the middle of the Great Recession.
*Federal-In January, House Democrats introduced the “Raise The Wage” Act” which proposes to raise the National minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024. If passed, this law would also tie the minimum wage to the median worker’s pay so if the average worker pay goes up (or down), so will the minimum wage. There is no ceiling (I am not certain if the Bill has a “floor”).
*State of California-currently, Minimum wage is $11/hour if you have 25 or fewer employees, and $12/hour if you have 26 or more employees. In 2020, the Ca min wage will go to $12/hour and $13/hour respectively. In 2021 it will go to $13/hour and $14/hour and in 2022 it will go to $14/hour and $15/hour and in 2023 it will be at $15/hour regardless of the number of employees.
*Sonoma County-in 2015, Sonoma County passed a Living Wage Ordinance whereby all employees working for Sonoma County, whether public sector or contracting as a private firm doing work with the County, has to pay $15/hour.
Now we are seeing Novato, City of Santa Rosa, and others, in a hurry to raise the local minimum wage ahead of the required min wage State increase. There is usually a spirited debate whereby businesses say no to raising minimum wages, and groups like SEIU, CA Teachers, and others push hard for higher minimum wages. A very healthy group that is organized and has lots of backing, the North Bay Jobs With Justice organization, is pushing all local Cities and Counties for minimum wage increases. It is interesting to see who these groups are aligned with (at least interesting to me-lol), so here is the link to their website and if you go to their “Steering Committee” you can see who guides them—
It is obvious to me, that the underlying support for raising the minimum wage is to also, because of upward pressure from the bottom, to then raise all of the other wages above minimum wage using the minimum wage increase as an example why they all should be raised.
Last night in Novato, the City Council heard both sides and the Marin IJ article is here for your reading pleasure-they decided to postpone their decision by the way.
Your ECA Government Affairs Committee will be meeting on September 10, 2019 to discuss the local minimum wage issue. This may not seem like an ECA issue at first glance, but I am convinced there are significant issues to discuss that affect all of our members. Issues like-what are future minimum wage increases tied to? Why is that important? Because police and fire will use what Cities and Counties use as a link to future minimum wage increases to tie their own contract negotiations to the same index. If, for example, the City of Santa Rosa ties minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index, then when big unions negotiate for contracts in January of 2020, they will want the same thing. That could lead to really high increases if consumer prices go up fast due to inflation. Therefore, although the ECA may discuss and decide not to oppose minimum wage increases, we may align with other Associations to demand that future minimum wage increases be tied to something less volatile than the CPI.
How else does minimum wage increases affect ECA members? I am convinced, if you raise the bottom tier of the pay scale, all the pay scales above the bottom tier will have to be considered to be raised as well. As an example-if a construction company, non-union, pays cleanup laborers/seasonal laborers a starting wage of $16/hour and the minimum wage is raised to $15/hour, that could make the construction company have to pay $18/hour for their seasonal labor help. If that firm had some employees that made $18/hour because they had been there a few years, now they have to raise them to say $21/hour. And on and on and on—
We are already seeing, due to the shortage of workers in our industry, our HR departments paying more than the State average in order to sign employees up and retain them. If you want to check on what you are paying vs the State averages, here are a few resources for you to look at:
Average Pay and Salary for workers in Santa Rosa, CA: link
Project Engineers in California: link
Heavy Equipment Operator in California: link
Union Heavy Equipment Operator Salary in California: link
Engineering Contracting Salaries by Indeed in California: link
So, with all this new information at your fingertips, should the ECA support raising the minimum wage locally?
Not so easy an answer is it?
That’s All Folks!
Measure M Tax Extension Update-the “ad-hoc” Committee of Bagbee, Gurney, Rogers, Landman, Gorin and Rabbitt, have engaged Rob Muelrath and a polling firm to start gathering public opinion in October in regards to possible extension of the Measure M sales tax (set to expire in 2024). The ECA is tracking the progress and will be taking an active role to promote an extension with certain conditions: Any extension must require Sonoma County and the nine cities to continue funding road repairs from their current budget levels. In other words-the ECA doesn’t want Measure M to pass and then see expenditures reduced from current budget levels.
We also don’t want to see a lot of Measure M funds to go to Public Transit until and unless Public Transit can demonstrate a real need for additional funding. Press Democrat Link
Spec Committee Meeting News:
No Spec Meeting in September. At the 8-22-19 meeting, Chair Dave Weller led a spirited discussion with the Contractors, Affiliates and City of Santa Rosa folks to respond to the City of SR question-“why are bids so high in the City of SR?”. We pointed out that because of experience, the City of SR sometimes has estimators putting money in for risk costs that they might not put in for other Cities. Also, because the City of SR has unique requirements for import that nobody else has, the price of import is a little higher for them. Bottom line-the City did not seem to care when we delivered the answer to their question as to why bidders bid higher to them. Is that surprising to anyone that works for the City on a regular basis? LOL.
Workforce Development Committee News: Chair Laura McArthur is wrestling with how to best address our workforce development needs for ECA members. We have the next meeting scheduled for 2pm on September 17 at the ECA Conference room. Agenda out next week.
Government Affairs Committee News: Chair John Bly notes there is an alarming number of ECA members who have “opted out” of the voluntary PAC Contribution that accompanies the Dues invoices that went out in June of 2019. Cutting off funding for our Political Action Committee right before a major Presidential election year (2020) is a great way to undo much of the progress the ECA has made locally in providing and supporting elected who are helping our membership with more opportunities for projects and sales than ever before. This is a real “head scratcher” as to why ECA companies would not make modest contributions to continue the good work that we are all seeing the benefits from.
Government Affairs Committee next meeting is September 10, 2019 at 4:00-5:30 pm. A long list of issues will be discussed such as:
*All Electric housing construction-more costs? Should ECA support?
*Minimum wage increases-Should ECA support?
*Commercial Linkage Fee-will adding $3/sf deter much needed commercial projects?
*Inclusionary Housing In Lieu Fee-City of SR wants to go from $16,000 to $26,000 per unit-will that discourage housing construction?
Auction Committee-meetings continue for planning of Havana Nights, the Annual Days of Wine and Dozers Auction to be held on Saturday September 28, 2019. Auction Committee is looking for vacation or 2nd home donations for auction items as well as sporting event tickets to be donated. If you can help out, please let Mary know! Next meeting 19. Sponsor flyer Get your reservations in soon! This event does sell out! Registration flyer