First, I want to start by stating what I don’t plan to discuss over the blog today: Gaylord and the Chula Vista Bayfront.  Even though the bayfront project is extremely important to the workers of San Diego County, I feel there are other issues that have not received the same press that the bayfront has received, that also merit discussion.  I also think San Diego Building Trades’ Tom Lemmon’s posts last week adequately reflect labor’s position on the bayfront project.

What I do want to start a discussion about today is the enforcement of the living wage ordinance in San Diego. Since July of 2006, contractors that do business with the City of San Diego are required to comply with the city’s living wage ordinance.  Now, I know there are some people who still oppose the living wage ordinance, but can anyone argue that the city shouldn’t enforce its own laws?  Unfortunately, that is what is happening.

We recently found out that Prudential Overall Supply, the largest private regional uniform laundry company in California who held two contracts with the City of San Diego, continually lied to the city about paying their workers a living wage.  When they were called out on their misrepresentation, they flat out refused to abide by the law.

Once we brought this situation to the city council and the city attorney, the city’s contract with Prudential was terminated.  However, there is still the question of how the city should deal with Prudential and other contractors who lie about paying a living wage. 

We hope the city attorney will seek approval of the city council to pursue legal action against Prudential.  Those laundry workers are owed thousands of dollars of back pay and Prudential should be forced to pay it.  This is a company that lied to the city about paying a living wage, stole our taxpayer dollars, and now refuses to justly compensate their workers. If the city doesn’t pursue further legal action, what example will that set for other contractors who lie about the fulfillment of their contracts with the city?

We also hope Mayor Jerry Sanders will see that having only one half of one position at the city to deal with contract enforcement is ridiculous.  As he moves to outsource more and more city work, it is essential that the city is protecting taxpayers by requiring and enforcing responsible contracting.  I am going to guess that it will take more than half a position to do that. 

— JERRY BUTKIEWICZ

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