California Charter Cities Must Pay Prevailing Wages on State-Funded Public Works Projects

April 1, 2016

Last updated on November 17, 2023

california's prevailing wage law

The State of California won an important appeal this week that affirms a lower court ruling regarding public works projects in charter cities. By state law, reimbursements from the state to charter cities are conditioned on local governments requiring contractors to pay prevailing wages.

The appeal from certain charter cities claimed that the law interferes with their authority on local matters.

It is clear from the California state constitution that charter city laws supersede state laws on local matters. The courts have ruled that the law in question does not violate the constitution because charter cities can choose to not pay prevailing wage rates on public works projects and not receive reimbursement. The cities argue that the law undermines local governance.

The five charter cities involved in the case are El Centro, Fresno, Vista, Carlsbad and El Cajon. The law in question is Labor Code section 1782, enacted in 2013 following a 2012 California Supreme Court ruling that prevailing wage rates did not generally apply to charter cities.

Prevailing wage laws ensure that California workers participating in public works projects are paid a fair ‘living’ wage. We applaud the court for affirming that State funded public works projects must abide by the prevailing wage laws.

Workers on public works projects in these charter cities may have a legal claim if they are not being paid prevailing wage rates. For a free consultation, contact Donahoo & Associates, PC.

Read more about this ruling at “Calif. Cities Lose Appeal on Public Works Wage Law”.

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