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Cincinnati City Council Votes 8-0 to Bolster Prevailing Wage Standards

A conception of Cincinnati's USquare

In Cincinnati, the City Council has passed new legislation that would mandate across the board prevailing wages on any project that receives more than 30 percent of its investment from the city. The new standard goes beyond the state’s requirement that prevailing wages be paid on any portion of a project that is publicly funded.

The 8 - 0 vote, with Council member Yvette Simpson not voting due to an excused absence, signals consensus among city leadership about the importance of such a measure. Following the vote, Councilman Cecil Thomas said,

Hopefully, this is the beginning of major changes to our projects here in the city of Cincinnati that are funded by taxpayer dollars.”

The changes were deemed necessary after the council found that workers on the USquare project near the University of Cincinnati were being paid under the table close to the minimum wage. The council investigated the project and found that subcontractor Midwestern Framing failed to pay the prevailing wage of $23.16. Prime contractor Towne Properties deflected responsibility citing the chain of command. After meeting with workers, council members Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young led the push for broader prevailing wage standards. The proposed law would hold prime developers responsible for their subcontractors failing to pay their workers prevailing wage. According to Councilwoman Quinlivan,

“These men were being pressured to sign documents stating they were paid prevailing wage, when it was closer to minimum wage.  These workers lost their jobs when they blew the whistle, and on their behalf, we intend to end worker exploitation on projects with significant city investment.”


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