Goldwater Steps Up To Stop Illegal ‘Prevailing Wage’ Mandate In Tempe

Goldwater Steps Up To Stop Illegal ‘Prevailing Wage’ Mandate In Tempe

By Daniel Stefanski |

Days after a powerful Arizona government watchdog group scored a major victory in the City of Phoenix, it is turning its attention to a neighboring city over the same issue.

On Monday, John Thorpe, a Staff Attorney with the Goldwater Institute, sent a letter to Tempe Mayor Corey Woods and councilmembers, expressing serious concerns about the proposed ordinance “Relating to the Payment of Prevailing Wages on City Construction Contracts” to be considered at the Council’s upcoming meeting on May 4.

Thorpe noted his understanding that “the proposed ordinance imposes, among other measures, prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements on all contractors who participate in public works projects for the City for contracts exceeding $250,000.”

Much like the letter the Goldwater Institute previously transmitted to the City of Phoenix, Thorpe warned, “if the City adopts this ordinance and regulates matters that are expressly pre-empted by state law, it will expose the City to a high risk of litigation, as well as costs and attorneys’ fees for parties who successfully challenge the unlawful ordinance.” He also highlighted the troubling nature of the Council’s consideration of this proposal “with less than one week’s notice and little chance for input from those most affected.”

The Goldwater Institute was again representing the Arizona Builders Alliance and the Associated Minority Contractors of Arizona.

The letter to Tempe’s municipal leaders follows the repeal of the prevailing wage ordinance from the City of Phoenix last month after a change of two councilmembers. The vote flipped from 5-4 (approval of prevailing wage) to 6-3 (opposition of prevailing wage). Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego voted to repeal the ordinance, writing, “Workers deserve a living wage – and we can deliver that through a robust, public process that doesn’t put the city in legal and financial jeopardy. That’s why I voted with a majority of Council to direct city staff to find legally viable ways to increase wages on city projects.”

On behalf of the Goldwater Institute, Thorpe cheered on the reversal from the City of Phoenix, stating, “Yesterday’s repeal….is a reminder that Goldwater will never stop fighting to hold government accountable and to defend Americans’ economic freedom from burdensome, counterproductive regulations.”

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is still considering a 1487 complaint from Democrat Senator Catherine Miranda, who submitted the request on April 17 to “clarify the apparent conflict between two statutes and consequently determine whether Phoenix has the authority to enact prevailing wage at the municipal level.” Though Tempe isn’t the focus of the inquiry to the state’s chief law enforcement officer, her final disposition could give valuable direction and information if more cities and towns attempt to pass versions of the prevailing wage ordinance.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.