Council Votes to Close Loopholes in San Jose’s Living Wage Policy

After a multi-year dispute with Republic Services over its use of a subsidiary and temporary staffing firm to avoid paying the City’s Living Wage, the City of San Jose voted unanimously to accept a settlement agreement providing back wages and agreeing to a $17 wage going forward for sorters and housekeeping staff at Republic’s Newby Island facility employed by Leadpoint, a temporary worker agency. Due to a technicality involving contradictory language in an exhibit included in the contract, Republic had argued workers at Newby Island were not covered under the Living Wage, despite clear language in the City’s policy saying subcontractors were intended to be covered. Republic has a long record of abusive practices to workers including violations of health, safety, and wage and hour laws and is currently engaged in litigation with the Teamsters for refusing the bargain with Leadpoint workers, who voted in 2011 to form a union.

While the settlement is a setback for workers, who deserve to be paid the Living Wage, the Council, led by Councilmembers Don Rocha, Raul Peralez and Sergio Jimenez, also approved a set of actions to close a number of loopholes in the City’s Living Wage Policy and strengthen worker protections for workers on the City’s other waste contracts. By directing staff to bring back revisions to the Living Wage Policy to cover all waste workers and requiring residential waste contractors, which have begun renegotiating their contracts with the City, to submit a new plan for labor peace, the City is taking steps to ensure its waste contracts support good jobs with livable wages and a voice at work.

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