County Council Unanimously Passes Bill to Update Prevailing Wage Law in Montgomery County

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 22, 2022

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 22, 2022—Today, the Montgomery County Council unanimously enacted legislation, spearheaded by Councilmember Tom Hucker and Councilmember Will Jawando, which will expand Montgomery County’s prevailing wage requirements and adopt Maryland’s prevailing wage law regarding the contract threshold limit. Bill 35-21, Prevailing Wage Requirements – Construction Contracts – Amendments, is co-sponsored by Council President Gabe Albornoz, Vice President Evan Glass and Councilmembers Craig Rice, Sidney Katz, Hans Riemer and Nancy Navarro.

The legislation expands the prevailing wage requirements to include additional construction-related jobs and for construction projects financed by the County to match the State’s lower prevailing wage threshold limit. It also applies prevailing wages for mechanical systems service contracts and includes a local hiring mandate to increase jobs locally in the County. The legislation passed with an amendment to apply prevailing wage rates to certain construction contracts that receive a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), but it also provides an exemption for affordable housing projects owned by the Housing Opportunities Commission, nonprofit developers who provide reduced rental units or accept rental assistance. The bill will take effect in 91 days; however, the Council adopted a provision exempting existing construction projects approved by the Planning Board before Dec. 31, 2022 from the prevailing wage requirements.

“I am thrilled that the Council has voted to pass this legislation, which will ensure our construction workers can earn a prevailing wage in Montgomery County,” Councilmember Hucker said. “By helping local workers and contractors compete for public construction projects, this bill will create more middle-class jobs with benefits, reduce demand on our social services, incentivize excellent apprenticeship training, and expand workforce and economic opportunities for our young people.”

“Research shows that on projects where prevailing wage laws exist, there is a boost in worker productivity and safety,” Councilmember Jawando said. “This update of our prevailing wage law improves the lives of many of our hardest working laborers and it is an important tool to decrease inequalities in the construction industry by raising standards for all workers. I am honored to co-lead this legislation and thank the labor community for their hard work on this bill.”

“The Baltimore-D.C. Building Trades Council thanks the County Council for passing this bill,” Baltimore-D.C. Metro Building and Construction Trades Council (BDCBT) President Stephen Courtien said. “This impactful legislation ensures more workers have the opportunity to earn a family-supporting wage in Montgomery County and continue contributing to the County by working on projects that benefit all residents.”

“This legislation will incentivize good jobs, strong apprenticeship training, and help build a thriving regional economy,” Executive Vice President of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Metropolitan Washington Thomas Bello said. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with Councilmembers Hucker and Jawando and thank the entire Council for voting to pass this important legislation.”

Bill 35-21 is similar to existing legislation found in the surrounding jurisdictions of Anne Arundel County and Baltimore County and would align recent changes in Maryland law governing the disbursement of funds from the Build to Learn Act.

Under Montgomery County’s current prevailing wage law, contractors of construction projects are excluded from the prevailing wage requirement if the project is valued at less than $500,000. The State of Maryland’s threshold for prevailing wages was recently lowered to $250,000, which would expand the number of workers who will qualify for the prevailing wage. This legislation will lower the prevailing wage threshold limit from $500,000 to $250,000 or apply the State’s prevailing wage threshold to construction contracts, whichever threshold is lower.

 

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