By Adam Elmahrek
The Irvine City Council Tuesday night decided to repeal an ordinance requiring contractors to pay a living wage to their employees, the latest move by a Republican council majority to roll back the policies of the Democrats who for years steered the city.
Councilwoman Christina Shea, who first raised the issue, said she was primarily concerned with a provision of the ordinance that requires contractors to pay a living wage to all their employees in Orange County, not just those who work for Irvine. That requirement inflates contract costs and has Irvine taxpayers subsidizing workers in other cities, Shea said at a previous meeting.
But instead of tailoring the requirement to apply only in Irvine, the council decided to undo the ordinance altogether. The vote was 4-1, with the sole no vote coming from Councilwoman Beth Krom, the only Democrat left on council from the previous majority.
The living wage ordinance, passed in 2007 when Democrats held the council majority, requires outside city contractors with contracts valued at $100,000 or more to at least match the lowest hourly rate paid to city employees. That equates to $10.82 for employees with benefits and $13.34 for employees without benefits.
According to city staff, 15 city contracts totaling $18.4 million fall under the living wage ordinance.