Economic development
3:33 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Cincinnati changing prevailing wages rule on projects

Developers doing work in Cincinnati will have to pay prevailing wage on the entire construction project if the city is investing money in it.  

State law requires that rate for publicly funded portions of a project like parking garages and street improvements.  But the city's policy would go further.

Projects with less than 30 percent city investment will be exempted.  

The change comes after three council members discovered some subcontractors working on the USquare development near the University of Cincinnati were being paid closer to the minimum wage.  

The city's policy holds the master developer responsible for making sure subcontractors are paying the proper rates.

Laure Quinlivan, Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young interviewed two USquare workers who provided documentation to show they were being paid minimal wages “under the table” by USquare subcontractor Midwest Framing.

“These men were being pressured to sign documents stating they were paid prevailing wage, when it was closer to minimum wage,” Quinlivan said in a press release.  “These workers lost their jobs when they blew the whistle, and on their behalf, we intend to end worker exploitation on projects with significant city investment.”

The USquare developer, Towne Properties, had a state opinion that prevailing wage wasn't required on the residential portion of the project.  

The Greater Cincinnati Building Trades has filed a lawsuit against the developer in that case.