by Photo courtesy of San Diego County

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Wednesday in favor of a policy that establishes better protections for janitorial, landscaping, and security services working for the county. 

County supervisors passed the Contracting Standards Board Policy unanimously to protect janitorial, landscaping, and security service workers from wage theft, sexual harassment, and other unfair practices. The policy was brought forward by Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer.

The policy also outlines requirements for a potential contractor to ensure that the employees are entitled to more comprehensive benefits, a more competitive wage package, greater workplace protections, training programs, sick days, and health benefits. According to the county, this will reduce the risk of turnover and labor disputes.

The standards outlined by the policy will be incorporated into all applicable Request for Proposals (RFPs) posted after Dec.13, 2022.​​ ​​The covered employees work at the County Administration Center, the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa, various libraries, and other facilities. 

The new policy will also establish the county “as one of the first to adopt a wage theft fund to repay workers who are entitled to pay from their employer,'' according to Fletcher. 

The county currently has 16 janitorial contracts among three providers, four landscaping contracts among three providers, and one security contract, which totals 21 contracts in total representing approximately 1,080 employees. The total contract value is over $40 million. 

During Tuesday's meeting, Fletcher praised the county workers who showed up during the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure buildings were clean and safe.

“We appreciate you, and see the value that you bring,'' Fletcher said, adding that he heard numerous stories from contracted workers about their struggles and challenges.

Fletcher said the workers don't want to be rich, just “treated with the basic human dignity and respect that I believe every single worker should be afforded.''

The following will be covered under the new county policy:

  • a wage theft fund, in which the county will set aside a portion of the contract, and will provide wages to employees who were not fully paid what they were owed, in violation of the California Labor Code;
  • a wage floor that will include the hourly wage, health and welfare benefits, paid days off, sick leave, and other benefits to ensure competitive salaries;
  • sexual harassment prevention and training programs, provided by the county, that will cover topics such as worker rights, changes to state, federal, or local laws, and how to file a complaint;
  • requirements for the contractor to provide information on potential consequences for perpetrators of workplace sexual harassment and assault, information to whom an employee can report cases, community, and mental health resources, and defense strategies;
  •  a requirement for contractors to establish a 90-day transition period for all employees, if the contractor is acquired by another entity;
  •  an agreement with labor groups representing employees under contracts awarded by the county that should include provisions for labor disputes and planned activity; an
  • collective bargaining agreements.

The county chief administrative officer will begin applying the requirements into contracts, and then update supervisors within one year. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *