Councilman in Gilroy, Cal. has proposed a new mandate for vendors: Pay workers "decent" wages and health insurance, or forget about contracts to mow public parks and clean City Hall bathrooms. According to the Gilroy Dispatch, this move is a gutsy one as the city is working to reduce millions from annual spending. "The city relies on a competitive bidding process to drive down costs on janitorial, park maintenance and countless other services, and a requirement to hire companies with higher labor costs could mean passing up the lowest bids."

That means very little to Councilman Peter Arellano, the person leading the fight for a livable wage for workers. The 2000 Census showed that more than 50 percent of Gilroy families earn less than the county's median income. He says the city is providing grants for programs that will give them education, health and employment, but he is also asking vendors to provide a decent wage and medical insurances.

Cleaning companies working for the city have already begun making the change. One local cleaning business employs all family, but is hoping to bring on additional help. That help will receive more than the state's $7.50 per hour minimum wage requirement. They are also exploring the costs of providing health benefits.

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