Mayor blindsides council, vetoes prevailing wage bill

On Dec. 31, after most members of city council had gone home to enjoy New Year’s Eve festivities, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl vetoed the prevailing wage bill approved on Dec. 21 by city council. The bill, which was approved unanimously, would have required employers to pay certain service industry workers a wage on par with others in the industry.


While the mayor’s veto would have been overturned if council had demonstrated the same support as when they first approved the bill, this was not the case. During a special meeting called by council president Doug Shields, only five votes were cast to overturn the bill, one short of what was required.


“While the mayor professes support for the working poor of Pittsburgh, it is clear that he cares little for their condition and could not bring himself to support even this modest measure,” said Shields.  “I will reintroduce the bill yet again and will have this law enacted—again.”

Under the new legislation, a prevailing wage would’ve been paid to workers such as janitors, security officers, cooks and dishwashers in developments that have received $100,000 or more of city aid. Eligible developments also had to be more than 100,000 square feet except for grocery stores that must only be over 30,000 square feet.

Council members Theresa Smith, Darlene Harris, Bruce Kraus, Shields and Bill Peduto voted to overturn the veto while Rev. Ricky Burgess and Patrick Dowd declined to vote, saying the special meeting went against rules that mandate a 24-hour notice must be given prior to holding a meeting.

Outgoing council members Tonya Payne and Jim Motznik did not attend the special meeting.

For the second week in a row, the mayor did not respond to requests from the Courier for comment regarding the prevailing wage.

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