Workers for city of Dallas construction contractors will receive a higher $15 per hour minimum wage following a unanimous City Council vote Wednesday that was praised by members.
Contractors bid for how much they are willing to charge the city for jobs such as building fire stations or completing storm sewer work.
“We have an opportunity to continue to hold our contractors accountable to a living wage instead of $11 an hour,” council member Adam Bazaldua said.
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City officials said some contractors may already be paying more than $15 an hour to keep good workers but they estimated the new minimum would cause a 10% increase in the cost of construction contracts.
Council member Jennifer Gates worried that would reduce the amount of work the city gets for its money.
“I think it's something we should continue to track,” Gates said, who went along with the unanimous vote.
Council member Carolyn King Arnold said she was concerned that workers may not actually receive the money.
“What I have a real queasy feeling about is that the worker does not have an understanding, these are my rights as it relates to this wage,” Arnold said.
Officials said they have ways to see that contractors pay as required.
“I'm excited about this," Councilman Omar Narvaez said. "These construction workers never got a break. They were the first to go back to work when the pandemic hit and they were the ones that got the most sick."
Dallas sanitation contract employees are not included in the increase approved Wednesday. They are paid a minimum of $12.38 an hour, which is considered the minimum ‘living wage.’
Wednesday’s City Council meeting was the first time most members were back in the council chambers since the switch to virtual meetings because of the pandemic.
Three of the members, including Lee Kleinman, are about to leave the council after serving the maximum 8 years.
Kleinman said he was pleased to make this change for the future.
“I think it's an important statement for this council to say we're going to support living wages in the city of Dallas," he said. "We want our contractors to support living wages."
The minimum wage increase takes effect on contracts issued after Oct. 1.
It comes as a national debate is raging over minimum wages. The national minimum wage has remained $7.25 an hour since 2009 despite efforts to increase it.
President Joe Biden last month issued an executive order for a similar increase in federal contractor employee wages to $15 per hour.