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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Supreme Court To Decide Whether Charter City Must Follow Prevailing Wage Law

The Supreme Court has granted review in State Bldg. and Const. Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO v. City of Vista (2009) 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 95. The case addresses an interesting issue: Whether a charter city must follow the prevailing wage law with respect to public works contracts that are financed solely from city revenues. The City of Vista decided not to follow the prevailing wage law in its construction contracts, and the AFL-CIO filed suit. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeal held that the city need not comply with the prevailing wage law. As stated by the Court of Appeal:
We conclude the PWL does not address matters of statewide concern and therefore Vista, as a charter city, is not required to comply with the PWL with respect to public works contracts which are financed solely from city revenues. Rather, such contracts are municipal affairs over which Vista has paramount power under article XI, section 5, subdivision (a) of the California Constitution.
Amazingly, the Court of Appeal did not mention a long line of cases holding that the prevailing wage law is a minimum wage law that guarantees a minimum cash wage for employees on public works contracts and that serves the important public policy goals of protecting employees on public works projects, competing union contractors, and the public. See cases cited in Road Sprinkler Fitters Local Union No. 669, v. G & G Fire Sprinklers, Inc. (2002) 102 Cal. App. 4th 765, 778-779.

It will be interesting to see where the Court comes down on this one. The Court's docket is here.

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