Monterey Park : Council OKs Union Wages

The City Council, in a move applauded by unions, has limited city contracts to firms that pay subcontractors "prevailing wages."

In a 3-1 vote with one abstention, the council rejected arguments that paying fixed wages for city redevelopment work was anti-consumer and anti-free market. Council members said their action would ensure that city construction projects met high standards.

"This will cut down on the many lawsuits we face from people injured because of shoddy construction," said Councilwoman Pat Reichenberger.

The vote means that subcontractors doing work for the city will pay wages set by area unions, even though the workers can be non-union. For instance, carpenters will receive more than $18 an hour while plumbers will be paid nearly $22.

The law probably could preclude from city work many Chinese-owned firms that are smaller and do not pay prevailing wages.

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