After much back-and-forth with labor groups, Capital Metro’s board of directors approved a final agreement Monday with developers for its Plaza Saltillo project. The final agreement addresses two points that labor groups have been pushing for – better wages and on-site supervision.
“The documents will provide for a living wage of $13.03 per hour, and the monitor will be an independent that will be selected by Capitol Metro and the developer,” said Rick Reed, an attorney for Capitol Metro, at Monday's board meeting.
The 10-acre site in East Austin will be redeveloped to include new apartments, retail, office space and a public park. Labor advocates rallied outside Capital Metro headquarters last week when the board revealed plans for the redevelopment. The final agreement does not address some of the other issues they raised, such as worker’s compensation and other issues, which Workers Defense Project Executive Director Jose Garza told board members at the meeting.
“The people who build our city deserve to live here and work here with dignity and respect, and this is a simple question about how we are holding developers accountable. I applaud many of the standards that you have adopted on this project, but let me be clear, it is not enough,” he said.
On top of years of planning and design, it’s taken months of discussion and input from community groups to come to this final agreement. CapMetro Board Member and Austin City Council Member Delia Garza hopes the terms of the Plaza Saltillo project will serve as a model for future public-private partnerships.
“I don’t think it’s something that has to be done this way. It should be done because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s an 11th-hour deal or agreement, or ‘Maybe we’ll get this out of the deal,’” Garza said. “It should be a given. A living wage for people who build our cities should be a given.”
CapMetro says construction on the development is expected to begin late next year, and will take two to three years to complete.