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SF Moves Ahead With Union Rule

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SANTA FE — The Santa Fe City Council will proceed with its new “community workforce agreement” ordinance requiring union wages and membership on city projects although it won’t go into effect until the fall.

Roxanne Rivera-Wiest, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors New Mexico Chapter called the rule “wasteful and discriminatory” and “a handout for organized labor onto a construction community where 92 percent of the workforce chooses not to join a union.”

Such agreements raise the taxpayer cost of public projects by 20 percent, impose burdens on contractors and constitute a “special interest scheme,” she said.

Originally approved in late February, the law will now become effective Oct. 1.

There was little debate about the delay, though councilors did ask for clarifications on the new law. City officials will meet with union leaders, contractors and others to create guidelines and procedures for the ordinance.

“It became apparent additional time was needed to implement those procedures,” City Attorney Geno Zamora said.

Under the new law, on all city public works and construction projects over $500,000, the city must pay union wages and follow union-mandated working conditions relating to hiring, hours, overtime, holidays and grievances. In exchange, unions agree not to strike and to complete projects in a timely manner, follow certain resolution procedures and allow non-union workers and contractors to work on projects.

Ray Baca, executive director of the New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council, said having community workforce agreements in place will provide the city with high value on construction projects and ensure workers are paid and treated fairly.

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