Council Members Remain Open to Prevailing Wage Requirement

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Next week, City Council is expected to vote down legislation to require prevailing wage rates for economic development projects receiving city incentives, though the chairwoman of the Council’s community planning and economic development committee isn’t ruling out new, similar legislation. 

When it meets Wednesday, Council will take up legislation introduced more than eight years ago that would have required economic development projects in the city that received land at low or no cost, tax abatements, tax incentives or other financial incentives to pay minimum wages and abide by all federal or state prevailing wage laws. 

The ordinance, introduced by then-Seventh Ward Councilman John Swierz, has languished in Council’s economic development committee – now the community planning and economic development committee, since the merger of the two offices – since 2013. 

“It’s being signed out of committee and defeated because it’s been sitting in committee for such a long time,” said Basia Adamczak, who currently represents the city’s Seventh Ward and is chairwoman of Council’s community planning and economic development committee. 

The ordinance is being brought out of committee and defeated as a housekeeping matter, Adamczak and Valencia Marrow, city clerk, said.

“I suggested to the chair that it’s probably null and void,” given that the legislation was introduced under a previous mayoral administration and City Council, Marrow said. “We’re just cleaning house.”  

So far, there has been no discussion of whether a new version might be introduced into Council but Adamczak said there seemed to be some interest so she was going to reach out to council members to see what their thoughts are.

Marty Loney, president of the Western Reserve Building Trades Council and business agent for Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 396, said he wasn’t familiar with the specific legislation Council will take up next week, but backs such measures. 

“It levels the playing field for how the bidding process goes,” he said.  

Mike Ray, Fourth Ward councilman, said he was not sure why the legislation went dormant after being put in committee but indicated he would be open to considering similar legislation. The legislation followed discussion with labor leaders at the time, he recalled. 

“It’s definitely a conversation I’d be open to having again,” he said. Prevailing wage rates are important to ensuring projects are done to high standards, he added. 

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.