Los Angles City Councilman Kevin de León Wednesday introduced a motion to collect best practices for creating a list of pre-qualified contractors to help ensure that Los Angeles maintains high-quality construction standards.
“This is just a first step toward ensuring that all development in Los Angeles protects the rights of construction workers from being exploited through disdainful practice like wage-theft and the failure to provide basic benefits,” de León said. “The city must exercise its control to promote equity and safeguard working families. L.A. can and must do better.”
The motion, if approved by the City Council, would direct the Economic Development Department, in coordination with the departments of City Planning and Building and Safety, as well as the Bureau of Contract Administration, to form a group to create best practices for designating a list of pre-qualified contractors. The group would also determine applicability and incentivize participation.
The list of contractors would be scored using criteria including company safety record, participation in state-approved apprenticeship training programs and direct hiring goals, as well as the availability of employer-paid health insurance and welfare benefits, compensated time-off policies, pension benefits and a clean record of compliance with labor laws.
De León’s motion builds upon the draft Hollywood Community Plan update, in which the City Planning Commission added as one of the implementation programs an instruction to the Department of City Planning to study and develop a pre-qualification process to evaluate contractors.
“Development of such a pre-qualification process could bee beneficial citywide, particularly in areas of high density with ongoing development,” de León’s motion stated. “Such a process would allow for informed selection of reputable contractors. This will help promote quality construction practices, a more equitable development culture and safe, productive job sites.”
De León cited a University of California, Berkely report that found that many construction workers in California are vulnerable to exploitative labor practices, such as misclassification, underpayment and incomplete access to benefits. These practices cause workers and their families to need government safety net programs, including food stamps and medical coverage, to meet their basic needs. De León said a pre-qualified process could alleviate these conditions.
“The Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters applauds the motion introduced by Councilmember de León,” stated Dan Langford, executive secretary-treasurer/CEO of Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters. “Every Angeleno deserves the opportunity to provide for themselves and their family. This motion is a critical first step in helping Los Angeles build back in a more holistic and equitable way.”
The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who called the construction industry “notorious for worker misclassification and abuse.”
“The working men and women who build our city deserve to make a wage that sustains them and to be employed by companies that value not just their labor but their lives. This working group will be a first step in exploring how the city can ensure that workers are protected from exploitative labor practices,” Rodriguez said.