PEABODY — The state's prevailing wage law is forcing Peabody to spend nearly $700,000 more than the city otherwise would have on a new five-year agreement with a trash hauler, according to city Finance Director Patti Schaffer.Mayor Michael Bonfanti recently called the law "another detrimental, unfunded mandate" that sent cost-saving strides the city had made in its dealing with JRM Hauling & Recycling "right down the damn toilet."The city was poised to pay JRM based on an hourly wage of $25.57 for the private company's trash collectors. But an adjustment mandated by law raised the wage more than $4 to $29.59 for this year and $30.29 for the ensuing four years, Schaffer said.The state Division of Occupational Safety determined the wages by averaging the rates in five Teamsters union agreements with various trash-hauling companies in Massachusetts.
Peabody is one of 34 cities and towns in the state within the Teamsters Local 25 jurisdiction and is therefore covered by its agreements, according to information provided by Alison Harris, director of communications for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.How Peabody ended up within this jurisdiction is a mystery, at least to Assistant City Solicitor Brian Barrett. No one from the state can give him an explanation.