A Labor Day Message of Progress
This Labor Day, I’m reflecting on the ways Council and city staff have made progress this past year in supporting workers’ rights. In the spirit of taking a moment to recognize what we have achieved together, I wanted to share those thoughts with you.
Council passed a resolution I introduced in July requiring the city to conduct compliance checks on city construction sites to ensure contractors are following our prevailing wage ordinance. The ordinance mandates workers be paid the prevailing wage for corresponding classes of craftsmen, mechanics and laborers, based on U.S. Department of Labor statistics.
In response to concerns I and other council members raised, city staff in April increased seasonal worker pay to a minimum of $15.66 an hour and transitioned six recurring seasonal positions to full-time positions.
With the approval of large contracts for solar installations on city buildings in June, city staff strongly affirmed that solar equipment must be installed by workers who are properly licensed and trained, and committed to random, on-site spot checks to ensure compliance.
In February, several local elected officials and I joined workers and civil rights activists to march in protest of the racist treatment of workers by a company doing business in Ann Arbor.
And of course, our new Best Value Contracting policy has leveled the playing field for responsible contractors bidding on construction jobs by allowing staff to consider criteria beyond just the cheapest bid. The city now considers important factors such as worker training, pay, health benefits and safety.
In all of these actions, Ann Arbor officials have strengthened our commitment to treating workers fairly and with dignity. We must follow our own living wage ordinance, and we should not shirk our duty to workers by giving them temp status when they should be full-time. And when it comes to city construction projects, it benefits us all to give priority to contractors who properly train their workers, compensate them fairly, provide health and retirement benefits, and keep them safe on the job.
These changes not only benefit workers, they also ensure we are competitive in recruiting and retaining excellent employees, and that we hire high quality contractors so we can deliver the top-notch infrastructure and services our residents expect and deserve. (For some Labor Day light reading, check out the study “Benefits of Michigan Apprenticeship Programs.”)
There is always more to do to support workers in our community, and I look forward to continuing the work with new initiatives as your council member in the coming years.
Happy Labor Day!