Saturday, October 29, 2016

They choose not to

Jared Brossett is on a roll lately. A few weeks ago he was the only councilperson to speak passionately and vote against Mitch Landrieu's short term rental giveaway. During this week's city budget hearings, Brossett also called out the administration for its foot-dragging over a living wage ordinance he shepherded through council last year. 
The council passed the living wage ordinance, which Brossett authored, last year, and it went into effect Jan. 1. It says that all new contracts and extensions of existing agreements must require that employees be paid the specified minimum wage and also receive a week's paid time off each year.

The administration has argued that state law prevents it from unilaterally changing the terms of a contract that is up for renewal, even as it has granted such extensions rather than rebid some expiring contracts.

Brossett said that circumvents the intention of the rules, possibly opening the city up to lawsuits from employees of firms that are paying them less than $10.55 an hour.

"It's my position that the living wage should apply to renewals. If it does end up in court, I don't want (the administration) representing the legislative branch," Brossett said.

It remains unclear how many workers on city contracts are in fact being paid less than the amount specified in the living wage ordinance.

Administration officials told the City Council that new city contracts do include the wage requirement and that they're reviewing more than 1,000 existing contracts to make determinations about which ones should be rebid to add the higher minimum.

"It wouldn't be practical and would result in poor service probably if we tried to rebid every contract the city has at one time," City Attorney Rebecca Dietz said.

"You all make it sound like it's too cumbersome and you choose not to do it, basically," Brossett said.
That's about right.  If it were something someone who mattered to them wanted, they'd be more willing to stick their necks out.  This isn't exactly a timid administration.

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