Democrats tout bills they say would help workers
Democratic lawmakers are urging passage of legislation to boost wages paid on state construction projects, increase overtime pay for public and private employees, and prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.
Those proposals were among a slew of bills discussed at a news conference held by the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. Del. Paul Krizek, D-44, said the bills concern “one of the core issues that defines us as Democrats – our commitment to jobs and the people who need those jobs, who man those jobs.”
He is sponsoring HB 667, which would require contractors and subcontractors on public works projects to pay the “prevailing wage” set by the federal government. He said the measure would increase the supply of apprenticeships and skilled workers and keep jobs in the community.
Many Republicans oppose laws mandating prevailing wages on government-funded projects. They say such requirements inflate construction costs. Krizek disputed that, saying higher wages are usually offset by greater productivity, better technologies and other employer savings.
Krizek’s bill is pending in the House Rules Committee.
Also at the news conference, Del. Sam Rasoul, D-11th, discussed his bill to prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their salary history. Under HB 240, an employer could not obtain an applicant’s pay history from current or previous employers, either.
Rasoul said employers use applicants’ salary histories to lowball the salaries they offer. “Both young workers and those workers that are in a career transition are experiencing real discrimination because of this,” he said.
Under his proposal, Rasoul said, employers could ask applicants their minimum salary requirement but not how much money they previously earned. The bill has been assigned to the House Commerce and Labor Committee.
That committee also is considering legislation by Del. Kathy Tran, D-42nd, to increase overtime pay for workers in Virginia. Under HB 1109, employees would be entitled to twice their regular pay in certain circumstances. That is more than what the U.S. Department of Labor requires.
“This bill ensures that workers are fairly compensated for overtime if they work more than 12 hours a day, 40 hours a week or 7 consecutive days a work week,” Tran said.