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Coalition's Figures

Whoa, says Sundra Cecil-Johnson, director of the city's office of procurement. Her staff is now reviewing the numbers the Living Wage Coalition gave them, she says, and "what we have done in preliminary analysis indicates those numbers are way off."

First of all, Cecil-Johnson says, city records show only $4.5 million was spent on contract work in fiscal year 2002. Perhaps contract companies listed the amounts of prearranged contracts on the survey, she surmises, but not the actual money received. For instance, she says, the city may arrange a $500,000 contract with a particular company, but "that does not mean we spend half a million dollars." If no city department has need of the contract services, zero dollars would be paid out.

Also, Cecil-Johnson points out, it looks as if companies listed all their employees on the survey the coalition sent out, not just the ones the city has used. One moving company, for instance, listed 190 employees per contract. There's no way the city ever hired 190 movers at a time, she says. "Maybe four or five." And, she says, one $29 million contract is listed twice.

Cecil-Johnson says the numbers have yet to be fully reviewed by the procurement office. Coalition spokeswoman Mary Lou Decossaux points out other surprising figures in their findings (which the group requested under the Freedom of Information Act), such as the city apparently paying a management firm almost $85 per hour for workers who actually make $19 per hour.

Decossaux and other coalition members want the city to examine the financial feasibility of paying people at least $8.70 per hour with health care, instead of the $5.15 minimum wage, to work for the city through contracting agencies. One hundred and three cities now mandate a living wage, she says, while four years ago only 46 did. —

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