Ordinance aims to ensure contract workers are paid prevailing wage rate and have good job protections

BOSTON – Monday, July 9, 2018 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today filed a citywide ordinance updating Boston’s Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance, to ensure that any City contracts for custodial and building security services guarantee that workers are paid the prevailing wage rate and have strong job protections. It also expands the number of workers eligible from only larger contracts to all contracts in city-owned buildings.

“Providing family-sustaining wages and good benefits to workers is beneficial for working Bostonians and their families, Boston neighborhoods, and the local economy,” said Mayor Walsh. “I am proud that we are leading by example in lifting up workers who provide critical services to our city and oftentimes go unrecognized for their important contributions.”

The proposed ordinance includes strong job protections by requiring that new vendors extend employment opportunities to workers who served under a previous contract, which will provide stability for workers and efficiency for city services.

“We applaud Mayor Walsh for introducing a prevailing wage that would cover publicly contracted security officers and cleaners in Boston,” said Roxana Rivera, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU. “By proposing a wage at which officers and cleaners can support themselves and provide for their families, Mayor Walsh is demonstrating a serious commitment to sustaining high quality security and cleaning services at Boston’s public buildings, to supporting a crucial sector of our public workforce, and to setting a standard for employers to follow in this vital profession.”

Over 20 years ago, Boston was one of the first cities in the country to pass a living wage ordinance to ensure that City resources were used in a way that would promote the financial well-being of workers who were employed under City contracts. Mayor Walsh’s proposal today continues that strong legacy of leading by example to lift workers and their families up and building our middle class.

Building service workers contracted for state-owned buildings are guaranteed a state prevailing wage rate of $14.85 – $20 per hour, with an additional $6.06 – $6.70 in health and pension benefits through 2020, but are only guaranteed Boston’s Living Wage rate ($14.82 per hour as of July 1) under City contracts.

“This could dramatically change so many people’s lives,” said Sarah Schwartz, a security officer at the Boston Public Library, one of the many locations that would be impacted by the prevailing wage proposal. “Knowing that we are guaranteed a living wage and health care when the contract for our building is out to bid would make it easier to plan for the future, and it would help decrease turnover at many currently low-wage buildings.”

Today’s ordinance supports the City’s work underway to reduce income inequality in Boston by lifting up workers, supporting the middle class and diversifying the talent pipeline. To accomplish this, Mayor Walsh is leading by example by committing to train and place Boston residents and Boston Public Schools graduates in good paying city jobs through a program specific to municipal work, City Academy. This program supports the goal of Boston Hires, a program aimed at getting 20,000 low-income Boston residents trained and placed in good-paying jobs by 2022.

Consistent with the city’s existing Living Wage Ordinance, this proposed ordinance will be enforced by the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD), which is responsible for investigating complaints of noncompliance. Covered building service vendors will be required to proactively file certified payroll reports annually with the City, which OWD will analyze if a complaint is made about a possible violation of this ordinance.

About the Living Wage Ordinance:

Since 1997, the Boston Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance (LWO) has served to create and retain livable wages in the City of Boston. This ordinance requires that all employees working on sizable city contracts earn an hourly wage that is sufficient for a family of four to live at or above the federal poverty level. This wage amount, called the living wage, is recalculated every year and is currently set at $14.82/hour. The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development Wage Theft & Living Wage Division upholds the Living Wage Ordinance by:

• Making regular site visits to contractors subject to the LWO

• Helping city contractors come into compliance with the LWO

• Educating workers on their rights under the LWO

• Investigating complaints of LWO violations

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