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California Supreme Court Asked to Decide Question That Could Significantly Affect California’s Prevailing Wage Laws

February 1, 2019

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Court of Appeals) has requested the California Supreme Court to answer a question regarding prevailing wage coverage applying to offsite “mobilization work” that is non-construction, non-job site work based upon its tie to a public works project.

The Court of Appeals requested the California Supreme Court to answer the following question of state law: “Is operating engineers’ offsite “mobilization work”—including the transportation to and from a public works site of roadwork grinding equipment—performed “in the execution of [a] contract for public work,” Cal. Lab. Code § 1772, such that it entitles workers to “not less than the general prevailing rate of per diem wages for work of a similar character in the locality in which the public work is performed” pursuant to section 1771 of the California Labor Code?”

Initially, the Ninth District Court found that since the offsite “mobilization work” was not dependent on any public works project for their existence nor an integrated aspect of the flow process of construction that plaintiff workers were not entitled to the payment of prevailing wages for off-site mobilization work. However, the Court of Appeals noted that California courts had not previously addressed the application of the State’s prevailing wage law to off-site mobilization work.

The California Supreme Court is expected to grant the request and decide the issues presented by the Ninth Circuit. The decision will impact workers who haul other equipment to public works sites.