A telling vote on an amendment to the city’s purchasing policy is set for Monday, February 11, 2019 before the Finance Committee, of which conservative Councilor Nick Mavadones is the chair. The amendment is the first item on the agenda which starts at 5:30 pm. tomorrow. Public comment will be taken as well. The outcome of the vote will be telling because it could draw another line between the conservatives on the Committee, including the Chair, and the progressive Mayor Strimling.
Last September 2018, Mayor Ethan K. Strimling, introduced a memorandum outlining his proposal to bring “responsible contracting” to the city’s process on behalf of workers in Portland. “The objective of this amendment is to strengthen the city purchasing policy to better reflect our values and to incentivize better outcomes for workers and Portland taxpayers, by adding and encouraging key components of what is commonly referred to as ‘responsible contracting’ …….. The two areas that I am focused on at this time are (1) the payment of prevailing wages for building contracts that are funded by municipal funds; (2) requiring contractors who are awarded a municipally funded construction project to participate in a registered apprenticeship/job training program (3) adding additional opportunities for contractors who treat their workers well to earn points toward the possible awarding of a contract.”
Some changes have been made since the memorandum was introduced last fall and they are as follows:
- Require the payment of prevailing wages for building contracts that are funded by municipal funds;
- Require contractors who are awarded a municipality funded construction project to participate in a registered apprenticsehip training program and;
- Require contractors to provide safety training and to have a clean record on wage, labor and safety violations. Each of these proposals will be taken up individually.
In the intervening months since September, numerous experts have testified both in support of and in opposition to the Mayor’s amendment. Conservative Justin Costa tried last October in an unsophisticated effort to kill the amendment in Committee so it would not get to the City Council for a vote. It was part of the conservatives on the Council failed effort to try to make the Mayor and his progressive agenda irrelevant. An effort that the city manager has participated in as well. (Please see post herein dated October 10, 2018 for more information on Costa’s efforts. Costa has also questioned whether the City Council really wants to spend the $$ to build Portland Landing on the east end waterfront. It’s been proposed by city manager Jon Jennings.)
“I’m looking forward to the city of Portland becoming the first in the State to pass this ordinance. It will be good for our workers and the quality of the work performed,” said Mayor Strimling recently. Numerous cities across the nation utilize components of this proposal amendment. They include, but are not limited to: Boston, New York City and Chicago.