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Puerto Rico CofC urges fiscal board to stop gov’s executive order

By on August 20, 2018

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce asked the Financial Oversight and Management Board Monday to overturn Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s executive order that raised the minimum wage for construction employees working on government projects to $15 an hour.

The executive order also requires that a Project Labor Agreement be reached and submitted for every construction contract that exceeds $2 million. “The Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (PRCC) has expressed its opposition to such measures because of the adverse impact they will have on the Puerto Rican economy,” a letter sent by PRCC Affiliate Council President Kenneth Rivera reads.

The PRCC stressed that it does not oppose initiatives that provide economic relief to the workforce.

“In the past we have recognized that increased salaries would mean more resources and economic means that would boost our local economy. However if the increase is too high, we understand that it would be harmful to the local commercial sector. We have proposed, regarding the Executive Order, that a further study on the impact of any such measure is needed prior to making any final decision. As of today, our position remains the same. Furthermore, we have not received any documentation from the government that justifies or explains how the amount of the increase was determined,” he said.

While the executive order says that “[i]n the United States, it is typical for construction workers to earn over $70.00 per hour (…),” the CofC noted that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage for construction workers is $18.71 with some earning about $10.71 an hour and others $30.48.

“Therefore, we remain unclear as to what information was used to reach the conclusion that raising the minimum wage for construction workers to $15.00 an hour was appropriate at this time,” the organization said, adding that the states that have raised the minimum wage, did so “in a calculated way.”

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