Boston passes living wage ordinance

Boston was one of the first cities in the United States to to pass a living wage ordinance to ensure that cleaning and maintenance workers and security officers in city buildings are paid a prevailing wage rate and have job protections.

Mayor Martin Walsh filed a citywide proposal to update the current ordinance to include strong job protections by requiring new vendors to extend employment opportunities to workers who served under a previous contract.

“Providing family-sustaining wages and good benefits to workers is beneficial for working Bostonians and their families, Boston neighborhoods, and the local economy,” said Mayor Walsh in a press release. “I am proud that we are leading by example in lifting up workers who provide critical services to our city and oftentimes go unrecognized for their important contributions.”

Building service workers are guaranteed a state prevailing wage rate of $14.85-$20 per hour, with an additional $6.06-$6.70 in health and pension benefits through 2020, but are only guaranteed Boston’s Living Wage rate under city contracts.

“We applaud Mayor Walsh for introducing a prevailing wage that would cover publicly contracted security officers and cleaners in Boston,” said Roxana Rivera, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU, also quoted in the release. “By proposing a wage at which officers and cleaners can support themselves and provide for their families, Mayor Walsh is demonstrating a serious commitment to sustaining high quality security and cleaning services at Boston’s public buildings, to supporting a crucial sector of our public workforce, and to setting a standard for employers to follow in this vital profession.”

Mayor Walsh plans to accomplish this by placing residents and Boston Public Schools graduates into the City Academy program, which trains citizens for municipal work jobs. City Academy currently offers two programs: hoisting or commercial driver’s license training and emergency medical technician training. This program supports the goal of Boston Hires, a program aimed at getting 20,000 low-income Boston residents trained and placed in good-paying jobs by 2022.

The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development Wage Theft & Living Wage Division upholds the Living Wage Ordinance by making regular site visits to contractors subject to the ordinance, helping city contractors come into compliance with the ordinance, educating workers on their rights and investigating complaints of violations.