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In a recent case brought by the Merit Construction Alliance (MCA), the U. S. District Court has ruled that federal law preempts a City of Quincy Responsible Employer Ordinance. On Friday, February 1, 2013, Judge Rya Zobel ruled that the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) preempted a Quincy ordinance that requires contractors working on city projects have a state approved apprenticeship program. It was Quincy’s intention to enforce the ordinance even though the Court had struck down a similar ordinance in UCANE’s 2011 case against the City of Fall River. Judge Zobel wrote in her decision, “Now as then, ERISA preempts mandatory apprenticeship program requirements.”
MCA President and CEO wrote, “The court’s decisions in Fall River and Quincy should serve as a wake-up call to any municipality that enforces these types of ordinances. They are likely violating the constitutional rights of construction workers or are violating federal law.”
With the court’s ruling, lawyers for the MCA and City of Quincy will meet to negotiate a settlement for damages which include Quincy reimbursing MCA for their legal fees. In the Fall River case, the City was ordered to pay UCANE’s attorneys’ fees totaling $150,000.
A copy of Judge Zobel’s decision can be found on our website.