Pushing wages down

by Susie
Remember: Cheap disposable labor with no legal protections. The Republican Holy Grail!

HARRISBURG — State legislators are caught in a squeeze between conservative groups that want to repeal Pennsylvania’s 50-year-old “prevailing wage law” and construction unions, which are fighting hard to retain it.

The first step toward repeal is expected this week, when the House is to vote on a measure that would narrow significantly the number of publicly funded construction projects covered by the law.

The law, enacted in 1961, requires school districts, counties and towns to pay prevailing wages, which often means union wages, to employees hired for public construction projects.

Critics complain that the law — which is supported by many Democrats and unions — unnecessarily drives up the labor costs on projects and thus the financial burden on taxpayers. The law requires prevailing wages to be paid to workers on all public construction projects costing more than $25,000.

Yes, I was just thinking we needed to lower wages on the few jobs we have left. Way to represent, state legislature!

7 thoughts on “Pushing wages down

  1. When one votes for a Republcan, in this case a Republican govenor and a Republican legislature, then one should expect to have their labor rights stripped away. As well as every other right they have. The question is why are the people of Pennsylvania so stupid? A real lousy educational system no doubt? Does Pennsylvania stiil use property taxes to fund local school districts?

  2. The prevailing wage is a concept from the New Deal, and the intention of it was not so much to pay more for government projects as it was to lift up the pay rates for non-government jobs in the area by providing competition. The power of the government should not be used to drive down wages, but to lift them up.

    Back in the thirties, one southern gentleman was heard complaining that his “colored” cook would no longer work for him because he could get a better WPA job as a painter for $1 a day. This is the kind of thing they are fighting for, not low cost government projects.

  3. Unfortunately, paying prevailing or union wage for public projects does not mean union-quality work if the contractor is a non-union shop. The result is often substandard work masked by lots of change orders that result in higher costs carried by unsuspecting taxpayers because the press is no longer around to blow the whistle.

  4. Cummulatively this crap eventually has to take an electoral toll. Whether its fire fighters, cops, teachers or public workers in Wisconsin or construction labor in Pa., what the Republicans fail to take into account is that they pulled votes in consequential numbers from these constituencies on social issues when the employees felt secure. The message they are sending now will coalesce a monolithic rejection vote. That party has already pissed off female independents. At some point this is going to give rise to a train wreck, unless the Democrats perpetuate the abuses in a craven, shortsighted play to triangulate again.

  5. Susie is exactly right. The Repubs use their divide and conquer strategy to keep margins close. That’s one of the reasons for the passage of voter ID laws. It’s easy to steal an election when you only have to make up for a few points.

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