Thursday, January 26, 2017

Grandfather clause

Janitorial workers are suing the City of New Orleans for violating its own recently passed "living wage" law. When asked for comment previously, the city's response basically came down to asserting "alternative facts" about what the law actually requires.
The "living wage" law, sponsored by Councilman Jared Brossett, was passed in 2015. It said that starting Jan. 1, 2016, whenever new city contracts were signed or existing ones extended, they had to say that the firms being hired would pay the workers employed on those contracts at least $10.55 an hour and give them at least six paid days off a year.

However, the city has not implemented the policy for existing contracts that were extended last year on the same terms, including its agreement with ETI, the company which employs the janitorial staff at City Hall and other municipal buildings. Those workers are now paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The city argued that such extensions were not covered by the Living Wage Ordinance. It said that adding new wage requirements to such contracts would require them to rebid, which would be a lengthy and disruptive process.
When he signed the law in 2015, the mayor was unequivocal as to its purpose. “If you’re working full-time, you should not be living below the poverty line,” the mayor said at the time. Never mind that $10.55 is still a poverty wage. The intent of the law is at least clear. The intent of an administration trying to weasel out of the law's requirements through a dubious grandfather clause is less clear.

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