Ravenstahl introduces his own prevailing wage bill

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Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office today is sending to city council its own version of controversial prevailing wage legislation.

The mayor's version starts with legislation council approved in December, and which the mayor vetoed on New Year's Eve. That legislation would have guaranteed that grocery, hotel, building maintenance and cafeteria workers at future city-aided development sites earn hourly wages that match the averages for their peers throughout the city.

According to a summary of the proposed changes provided by the administration, the mayor's version would ensure that past projects couldn't be constrained by the wage rules.

It would prevent implementation of the prevailing wage bill unless Allegheny County also adopted such legislation.

It also would allow flexibility for small businesses that have employees working in multiple roles.

It would exempt independently owned restaurants, though not cafeterias.

It would ensure that infrastructure wouldn't count as city aid, and keep the bill from touching assistance provided solely by city-related authorities, like the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Subsidies that amount to less than 10 percent of a project's cost would not trigger the rules.

It also would change definitions of grocery stores, alter prevailing wage calculations to take into account differences between full- and part-time employees and eliminate a mandatory $30,000 fine for violations, among other changes.

The original legislation was backed by a coalition of labor unions, community groups, churches and environmental organizations that wants to change the way development is done in the city.

Council passed its version unanimously, although Councilman Patrick Dowd tried unsuccessfully to make numerous amendments to address developers' concerns. The mayor vetoed it on the last day of council's session, and a nighttime override effort failed when several members questioned the legality of the hastily scheduled council meeting.

Council members are expected to reintroduce on Tuesday the version that passed last month.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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