Turtle Bay to Challenge Prevailing Wage Findings

Mar 5, 2013 9:28 PM

In Redding a battle that put the brakes on a Turtle Bay hotel will head to court.

Board members from the exploration park announced Tuesday, they plan to appeal a recent state decision mandating them to pay prevailing wage on the project.

The battle rages on over how much hotel construction workers need to be paid. Turtle Bay says the standard going rate, unions say prevailing wage which is two to three times higher.

In an announcement Tuesday morning Turtle Bay officials made their message clear.

“Over the next few days, turtle bay will be filing a writ with superior court, asking the judge to review the findings of the state department of industrial relations,” said Janice Cunningham, Turtle Bay Board of Trustees Chair.

In a recent decision the department of industrial relations ruled turtle bay must pay union wages to construct it's proposed hotel, increasing the cost by 20 percent.

“When prevailing wage hit us, to our best estimate, that added three million dollars to the project. Unfortunately we don’t have three million dollars,” said Arch Pugh, Member of the Turtle Bay Board of Trustees.

If public funds are used, prevailing wage must be paid. Unions say they are being used on the project, turtle bay officials say they are not.

“The Sheraton hotel and restaurant project does not fall under the prevailing wage statute because there is no public funding in the project,” said Cunningham.

The argument comes down to whether Turtle Bay's lease originally allowed for a hotel. The organization asked that question. City Attorney Barry DeWalt said; yes, because the city was not losing any value, it was allowed.

Union officials say turtle bay was actually asking permission and when it was granted, the property's value increased. Because of that, unions argue public funds were used and prevailing wage should be paid.

“If this hotel is not built, we are going to have to go out and look at some other method and means to try and obtain a revenue stream to support us," said Pugh.

Turtle Bay officials say the hotel would bring 40 construction jobs and 65 permanent jobs to Redding, as well as have other positive economic impacts.

Union officials said Tuesday; turtle bay's estimate that prevailing wage will cost an extra three million dollars is inaccurate. They added discussions broke down with turtle bay.

The unions have scheduled a press conference for Wednesday morning where they plan to give a more detailed response.

For now the hotel project appears to be long way off.


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