Sunday, June 7, 2015

Republican State Officials Push Prevailing Wage Repeal

            Republican governors and state and local legislators in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin continue to push forward legislative measures to repeal various requirements that public construction contracts require the companies receiving the awards to pay workers prevailing wages for their respective trades, whether or not the employer is party to any union labor agreement. The politicians favoring prevailing wage repeal justify their union busting measures on the basis that taxpayers funding public projects will save money, yet these measures do not require the employers to pass savings from wage reductions along to the government. In all likelihood, much if not all of the savings in labor cost will fall down to the employing contractor’s profit line on the construction draw, rather than reducing the taxpayer investment in the project.

            Although couched in terms of helping to balance government budgets, what these legislative initiatives are aimed at is reducing the power and influence of labor unions in government work and politics in general. Whether or not any of these new state and local measures is enacted into law, prevailing wages will still be required by federal law on any project assisted with so much as a single dollar of federal funding. Since most infrastructure and educational construction at the state and local levels receives federal funding assistance in some proportion, any cost savings will be minimal at best. What the Republican politicians are looking for, then, is really a chance to trumpet to their business constituents and donors that they have achieved legislative victories over construction labor unions
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