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Groups Seek Role in Crafting Union Ordinance

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Business groups fighting a city ordinance that would require union membership, wages and working conditions for most city building projects are complaining that city officials have failed to work with contractors since postponing implementation of the ordinance.

The Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Utility Contractors Association and the American Fire Sprinkler Association asked in a letter to city councilors Wednesday that “you involve our organizations and our members in the fact-finding process” that’s supposed to take place before the law becomes effective, now scheduled for Oct. 1.

The ordinance — called a “community workforce agreement” — was passed in February but the council in June postponed implementation to work out details and administrative procedures. Builders maintain the law will drive up costs and that it’s wrong for taxpayer-funded projects to go only to union contractors, while city leaders maintain the measure will ensure work quality and streamline the contracting process.

Roxanne Rivera-Wiest, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors New Mexico chapter, said in a news release that the letter to the council is the construction industry’s “latest attempt to ensure that more than just Big Labor is at the table as the council considers this policy.”

City Attorney Geno Zamora said Wednesday city staff has been “working internally” on the ordinance and will be reaching out to ABC and others in the coming weeks.

“The city is encouraged by ABC’s willingness to provide input for implementing the city’s existing community workforce agreement ordinance,” Zamora said.

Santa Fe’s union ordinance apparently is the first of its kind in New Mexico.

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