Labor Commission next stop for CTH wage debate
by Susie Vasquez
Appeal Staff Writer
Carson-Tahoe Hospital should be required to pay prevailing wages for construction workers, Judge Michael Griffin told hospital and labor officials during a hearing in Carson City District Court on Monday.
Carson-Tahoe is building a regional medical center, and the debate involves the state statutes governing payment of prevailing wages, and whether those rules are limited to public projects or include private projects.
“In my interpretation of this law, the prevailing wage applies in this instance,” Griffin said. “But that doesn’t answer all of the issues.”
The matter will be remanded to the Labor Commission per Griffin’s decision. Under Nevada law, prevailing wages are determined by an annual survey by the state labor commissioner of contractors who have done work in the county where the project is being built.
Carson City resident Cecil Hoffman; the Building Trades Council of Northern Nevada; and the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Carpenters Local 971, were the labor entities in the debate.
Desmond Lee, attorney for Carpenters Local 971, said the prevailing-wage law is designed to benefit workers. When bonds are issued publicly, prevailing wages must be paid whether the project is public or private, he said.
Carson City acted as the issuing agent for the $95 million in bonds to build the new medical center.
“With this decision, prevailing wages and the standards in this community have been upheld, whether the project is union or non-union,” Lee said. “This means people will be paid the wages they’re owed.”
If the ruling does not fall in the hospital’s favor, it is expected to cost the hospital about $1.7 million, money officials planned on using to finish an extra 28-bed wing, said Ed Epperson, chief executive officer at Carson-Tahoe Hospital.
Hospital attorney Mike Pavlakis argued the bonds were issued as economic development bonds, but the city is constitutionally prohibited from paying them. Hospital revenues, an insurance policy, a letter of credit and a deed of trust on the hospital stand between the hospital and that liability.
“Our position is, we aren’t paying for those bonds with public monies,” he said. “Because we’re not using public money; this is not a public works project.”
Contact Susie Vasquez at email@example.com or 881-1212.
On the Web: To see prevailing wages by job for Carson City and other Nevada counties, go to http://www.laborcommissioner.com.