Business, Health, Politics

Olszewski announces legislation to support Baltimore County workers amid COVID-19 pandemic

TOWSON, MD—County Executive Johnny Olszewski on Monday announced plans to introduce prevailing wage and local hiring legislation to support Baltimore County’s workforce and ensure workers hired for County-funded capital improvement projects receive competitive and fair wages.

Baltimore County would join the state of Maryland, as well as four local jurisdictions—Baltimore City, Charles County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County—that currently have prevailing wage laws.

“The men and women who build our roads, our schools and all the public infrastructure supporting our quality of life deserve the ability to earn a fair, living wage,” said Olszewski. “This legislation creates a level playing field for workers, improves workplace safety and enhances project quality—all while ensuring we put Baltimore County’s residents to work as we continue the road to economic recovery.”

Under the proposed legislation, construction companies awarded County contracts will be assured a standard rate of pay set by the State of Maryland’s annual wage determination surveys of construction company employers. Prevailing wages would be required for all County-funded capital projects valued at $300,000 and above.

Montgomery and Charles County each require prevailing wages for projects valued at $500,000 and above. Prevailing wages are required for all county-funded capital construction projects in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City requires prevailing wages for projects valued at $5,000 and above.

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The legislation would also require that at least 51 percent of all new jobs required to complete these projects are filled by Baltimore County residents. This employee data will be reported to the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development. Ensuring increased employment opportunities for local residents will be critical as Baltimore County continues its economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a March 2020 analysis by Pinnacle Economics, a prevailing wage policy would result in increased hiring of Baltimore County residents, generating millions in economic impacts to the local economy. For example, the County would experience a net gain of 232 jobs, $35.1 million in additional income for workers, and receive $6 million in additional state and local tax revenue, if applied to the County’s FY2020 to 2025 capital budget.

The bill will officially be introduced during Monday evening’s Baltimore County Council meeting.

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