Phoenix’s prevailing wage law is illegal – and it hurts those it claims to help

U.S.Department of Labor

Opinion: The law means fewer bids for Phoenix projects, less competition and fewer businesses to do the work. In other words, there are no winners.

By Ricardo Carlo and John Thorpe/online contributors || The Arizona Republic

Many construction companies would be hard-pressed to abide by all the rules in Phoenix’s recently passed prevailing wage ordinance.

When a city hires contractors for taxpayer-funded public-works projects, it should ensure those opportunities are available to as many qualified businesses as possible.

 The government shouldn’t restrict who can compete for those jobs. It shouldn’t impose rules that are detrimental to businesses, employees, taxpayers and residents – particularly minorities.

=And it shouldn’t make those decisions without public scrutiny. 

But that’s exactly what the Phoenix City Council just did.  

It passed with barely 24 hours’ notice

Late last month, the council voted 5-4 to pass a new “Prevailing Wage Ordinance for City Projects” requiring businesses that contract with the city for construction projects costing $250,000 or more to provide their employees with wages and benefits comparable to what union workers receive.  

On behalf of the Associated Minority Contractors of Arizona and the Goldwater Institute, we strongly believe these mandates are bad policy and illegal – and will only put up more barriers to small and minority businesses.  

The provision was introduced for a council vote with barely 24 hours’ notice, leaving no opportunity for any of the countless organizations and individuals negatively affected by this law to weigh in.

Incredibly, even the city attorney remarked during the council meeting that her legal team had not had an opportunity to review the draft ordinance and “there might be some legal issues” with it. 


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