Recently introduced legislation would restore prevailing wage
LANSING, Mich., April 5, 2021— House Democrats have introduced a series of bills to restore prevailing wage, as well as give local municipalities the freedom to protect local workers.
House Bill 4594, introduced by State Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac), would restore Michigan’s prevailing wage law to ensure that construction workers are paid a fair wage commensurate to their skill level and where they live. A study out of Indiana, which repealed prevailing wage in 2015, showed that the repeal decreased the average wages of blue-collar construction workers by 8.5 percent, while having no statistical impact on the cost of construction projects.
“As a journeyman machine repair machinist, I know a thing or two about the value of quality work,” Carter said. “I’m proud to introduce legislation to restore prevailing wage, which would both lower the cost of repairs for taxpayers and ensure our public projects are of top quality. Prevailing wage is a win-win. It’s a win for Michigan workers, who deserve a fair wage for their skilled labor; it’s a win for Michigan’s economy, with more money flowing into local businesses; and it’s a win for Michigan taxpayers, who will receive a better return on their investment in our roads and infrastructure.”
House Bill 4592, introduced by State Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), would repeal “the local government regulatory limitation act,” which prohibits local communities from enacting minimum wage laws, living wage laws, prevailing wage laws, unpaid leave, or any benefit greater than that provided by state law. This law in its current form has stifled local communities’ ability to attract workers into their region.
“While serving as a county commissioner, I experienced firsthand the frustration that comes with the challenge many local communities face to appropriately compensate skilled work on quality projects,” Rogers said. “Preventing local governments from enacting minimum wage laws has made Michigan a less attractive place to live for skilled workers. My bill would restore local control and allow workers to be compensated fairly.”
House Bill 4593, introduced by State Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills), would repeal “the fair and open competition in government construction act,” which prohibits local municipalities and labor organizations from entering into local project labor agreements on publicly funded local projects to ensure that local projects are constructed by skilled labor who live within their community.
“As we take steps toward making a monumental and necessary investment in our roads and bridges, it’s important to ensure that the construction jobs these projects create are given to Michigan workers,” Steckloff said. “Workers that live in the community have an inherently increased stake in the safety and durability of the roads and schools they are constructing, but recently, out-of-state workers have been shipped in to work on these local community-based projects across the state.”
House Resolution 65, introduced by State Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), calls on industry and union leaders to work together on a state and federal level to address the worker shortage in the building trades and increase the number of women and minorities in the building trades.
“The relative lack of women and people of color in skilled trades is just another symptom of a systemic issue,” Anthony said. “For generations, we were told what we should and shouldn’t do, what we could and couldn’t do. We must break down societal barriers that have kept us out of certain industries and hindered our journey toward economic freedom. The building trades are no exception.”
House Bills 4592-4594 have received bipartisan support and all four pieces of legislation were referred to the House Committee on Workforce, Trades and Talent.