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Council OKs union wages for affordable housing

Original post made on Oct 10, 2013

In what was called a "value judgment" by city staff, the City Council decided Tuesday that it was worth using affordable housing funds to pay union wages to workers constructing affordable housing.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 10, 2013, 10:57 AM

Comments (23)

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Posted by Greg Coladonato
a resident of Slater
on Oct 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

It seems to me that it's relatively painless to be generous spending other people's money, compared to spending one's own money.


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Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

Actually the staff said that some studies indicated that prevailing wage can add as much as 37% and that the AVERAGE is 21%. Th 10% number comes from one builder that has done a number of projects both prevailing and non-prevailing wage throughout California. It would have been nice though to see studies just of the Bay Area as the costs here are much different than those of Sacramento or the Central Valley.

After the meeting I was also confused about how this actually helps anyone except the Unions. People who spoke seemed to say that it would increase the wages of those who work here, while they also claimed it would get rid of workers who come here from the Central Valley (my logical assumption here is that they mean undocumented people, but perhaps someone can enlighten me?).

Union representatives also claimed that non union workers can also be paid prevailing wage, and most likely would be, if this were to be accepted. So I am confused again as to why so many union people would show up to whole-heartedly endorse something that would hurt their membership? That doesn't sound very smart to me. Will the undocumented be asked to join the unions?

There was also a gentleman that stated that there are no Black people working in ANY union jobs in Mountain View. If this is true, I find that very disturbing and I would have recommended that any prevailing wage contractors demonstrate that there is no discrimination in their hiring practices.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


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Posted by konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

If the cost increases by 10%, then the same dollars will have to purchase 10% less low income housing. Yes, the unions benefit, but everyone else's wages, other than those at the minimum wage level, are set by the economic forces of supply and demand.


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Posted by Remember River Rouge
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Thanks to most of City Council for bucking the anti-worker trend dominant in the nation for the last forty or so years. Living in this County is hard enough and to not earn decent wages makes it even harder. It's a shame that Mr. Inks is mayor. His decision on this and the anti-gun matter reveals a man whose selfishness and lack of awareness exceeds his capabilities for the important office he holds in our city.


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Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Let me get my head around this insane decision. So-called "affordable" housing, which I vehemently oppose because it is a cruel hoax, must be cheap, right? And the idiots on our city council jack up construction costs by authorizing inflated union construction wages? Do any of them know anything about basic economics or bookkeeping? Do any of them understand fiscal responsibility with which we have entrusted them? Guess not.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Slater
on Oct 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Hats off to Mayor Inks for having the courage not to be a fawning union sycophant. This is featherbedding pure and simple. Other cities thought that the party would never end, and sold out to CalPERS, and when the debt came due, they went bankrupt. This is nothing more than a poorly veiled "thank you", from the union supported candidates.


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Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

We need to become a Right To Work State.... Unions represent about 7 or so percent of the nations workers... they are a dying breed.. The union members get raped by the unions, they pay huge dues and get little in response..
Let the free market prevail.

Our President is on the way to completely Socialize and Unioneze out natior...Way to go city council guys..


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Posted by just the facts
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

its unfortunate that some of those that comment on issues like this have little or no knowledge of the construction industry and seem to believe that the livelihoods of construction craftworkers are nothing more than a commodity to be traded with big business so they can pay their CEO's more. the purpose of a union is to fight for the rights of all workers in an industry, union and non-union alike. Polling has consistently said that 60% of workers would join a union if given the opportunity. Which tells me that only 40% of employers are doing a good job of treating their employees with respect and paying them a wage that keeps them out of poverty. Those with a short memory might want to consider that it was the collective effort of unions that brought you the weekend, minimum wage and overtime...none of which apply only to union members. The most effective anti-poverty tool in the history of this country has been a union...any wonder why the decline of the middle class has followed the decline of unionization in this Country?


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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 12, 2013 at 8:19 am

@ Remember River Rouge,

"Thanks to most of City Council for bucking the anti-worker trend"

What anti-worker trend. Price controls on labor markets help some workers and hurt some workers. Inks is the only council member to see through this charade because he understands the negative impacts of govt interference in the marketplace.

@just the facts,

A lot of propaganda to comment on. Private unions are in decline whereas public unions are not. Perhaps the nature of competition in the marketplace has more to do with membership. Private unions cannot compete effectively in competitively markets. Why pay more for labor if everyone is selling the same product or service. Examples include trucking, air transportation, mail delivery, grocery stores, etc. Whereas municipalities have market power in offering their public services and politicians can bestow rents to unions for political favors.


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Posted by FreeMarketIsBs
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm

People like Inks and political insider spout off on the free market solving all our woes, yet completely brush aside the this country's history of sweat shops, mass poverty, slavery, lynching and the rest. Sorry folks, but unrestricted free market DOES NOT WORK. Thank to our Constitution, the people revolted and used our checks and balances to build protections for our citizens. Other countries are not so lucky and have wealthy families and corporations enslaving their populations. Perhaps Inks and Political Insider should move there instead?


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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm

@ FreeMarketIsBs,

Obviously you are economically illiterate, confusing slavery with sweatshops, free markets with lynchings, etc.

Free and open markets protect the rights of individuals to engage in mutually beneficial trades. The system depends on the protection of human rights. So whats your alternative to supporting human rights to associate freely, government coercion to abuse basic human rights. There are plenty of countries that support your type of thinking. They are all ranked at the bottom of economic and political freedom indices. Perhaps you should consider moving to countries that support your abuse of government coercion.


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Posted by FreeMarketIsBs
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Political Insider would like us to return to the times when companies can collude together to dictate pennies/hour wages (take it or leave it) all in the name for having no regulation on wages or labor practices. I'm sure he would love to make unions illegal.

Fortunately, this is America and the People have determined that allowing the wealthy to condemn us all to poverty is not in our nations best interest. It is sad that people like Political Insider continue to want to bring us back to these so-called 'good ole days'. Sadly, he and his fellow Tea Party illiterate have made some "progress" there.

Thanks to the majority of MV City Council for truly representing the best of our city and not a few 50's throwbacks.


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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm

@ FreeMarketIsBs,

More BS from FreeMarketIsBs, and a lack of historical perspective. Free markets are not a throwback but a principled perspective. Your view is that government coercion is preferable to free choices of where to work. The collusion you mention is non-existent in most labor markets. Try to learn some economics and history rather the spewing your hyperbolic rhetoric and maybe you will learn how to make better arguments.


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Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Can I just say how happy I am that Tom Means is finally off council and imposing his unbending libertarian beliefs on the residents of Mountain View? His name-calling ("economically illiterate") is immature, he accuses anyone who disagrees with his opinion as ignorant, and he always has to have the last word in these discussions.


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Posted by FreeMarketIsBs
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 14, 2013 at 1:02 am

Thanks "reader". Political Insider is Tom Means? I didn't know that. I love how he wants me to make a better argument, but then calls me names. :)

It's curious to watch the ultra-right wing elements having their voice whittled away over the years, so they rely on name calling, denying citizenship of an elected president, massive legislative obstructionism and my favorite...impeachment for something irrelevant to governing. There's still a lot of 'big money' out there that are successfully buying the votes of the ignorant (religious right / tea party / libertarians), but I think that will just slow things down. Even the mis-guided will eventually learn that they are being manipulated to support ideas & program that are bad for them. That will be a wonderful day. Can you imagine the day when an educated legislative body can actually vote their conscience and not just what their backers told them to do?


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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 14, 2013 at 11:12 am

I am not Tom Means, though I do like a lot of his opinions and consider him and Inks to be good council members. My views are shaped by being a former planning member from another town. I prefer to remain anonymous because I still have inside connections with planning staff in the city of Mountain View.


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Posted by Unions were good back in the day
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Unions were good back in the day, but that is more than a century ago. In the meantime they are nothing but a bunch of Liberal bullies that will bring the state as well as the country to it's bankruptcy with it's building up of costs to the cities by many folds.

You want an example, try looking at Detroit.

It use to be that to work for the city meant a relatively low pay but with a good pension benefits. Today thanks to the unions both have skyrocketed astronomically eventually leading to bankruptcy. More example, Stockton.

What the Unions are trying to do is solve this problem by using the stock market as a way to increase their bloated Payment schemes. Although wall street is not friendly and the chips can all come crumbling down.

Like someone earlier said, this is a way to thank the unions for their jobs.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm

OK, here's a simple question: If union membership is such a wonderful blessing to the average workin' man... why is membership compulsory in a union shop?


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Posted by jeffr
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 14, 2013 at 4:11 pm

"If union membership is such a wonderful blessing to the average workin' man... why is membership compulsory in a union shop?"

Because like many right wing nut jobs, they shake their fists at government and union organizations for taking their money (dues/taxes), while quietly pocketing all of the benefits they receive. In this case, being able to receive a living wage that was negotiated through collective bargaining. Fortunately, workers are free to go work in a non-union shop if they don't want to pay dues. They may get paid a lot less and be jerked around a lot, but they are free to do so...


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Posted by Croc Dundee
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm

In my experience, "Affordable Housing" costs at least 30% more to build and provides fewer amenities than does market rate housing. It also provides the opportunity for political cronyism and political payback. The commendable goal of providing an adequate supply of decent housing remains unmet, with millions of dollars wasted with each project.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Jeffr: So... it's not really about the worker, but the closed shop exists to protect the unions against right wing nut-job cheapskates. Seems plausible.


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Posted by jeffr
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Steve--if dues are not paid, then there won't be collective bargaining, so wages will tank. So, it's really about the worker. BTW, there are liberal "cheapskates" too, but at least they support the union verbally. It's the right wing nut jobs that complain about unions, but then pocket their living wage salary that was available to them thanks to unions!


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Posted by left wing nut job
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm

To all anti-Union commenters. I hope you feel better after your ranting and raving. Go back and yell at your TV agreeing with fox news. I had the urge to argue back, but that would make me just as ignorant to think I could actually penetrate the rock you call a head.


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