Business-labor partnership tackles wage theft on public projects

By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota
February 22, 2016

ST. PAUL – A joint effort between contractors and building trades unions has led to stronger enforcement of state laws on public construction – making a big dent in cheating and recovering nearly $1 million in stolen wages and benefits.

The partnership could be a model for addressing wage theft in other industries.

The federal government adopted wage standards for taxpayer-funded construction projects in 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed the Republican-authored Davis-Bacon Act. In the decades since, many states, including Minnesota, and many local communities have followed suit.

Known as “prevailing wage” laws, these regulations require contractors bidding on publicly funded projects to pay wages and benefits in line with those of a particular location. In Minnesota, the state conducts surveys to determine the prevailing wages for different communities.

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New Study: Prevailing Wage Law Would Boost New Hampshire Jobs, the State Economy, and In-State Contractors

January 14, 2016
A new study released today by leading national researchers on the construction industry finds that a proposed New Hampshire prevailing wage law would boost the state economy by at least $300 million, create several thousand jobs, and increase state and local tax revenue by up to $17 million.

The report, published by the Keystone Research Center (KRC), an independent non-partisan economic policy group, was released in advance of hearings in Concord next week on the proposed prevailing wage law. New Hampshire is the only state in New England and the Northeast that does not have such a law.

The study uses a growing body of peer reviewed research, data from the Economic Census of Construction, and industry-standard IMPLAN software to analyze the impact of prevailing wage standards for skilled construction industry trades on the New Hampshire economy as a whole and on construction workers’ wages, benefits and reliance on taxpayer-funded public benefit programs.

(PDF of Press Release)

(PDF Copy of Full Study)

UPDATE: West Virginia House votes to repeal prevailing wage

By WV MetroNews
Posted: Wed 3:17 PM, Jan 27, 2016

CHARELSTON, W.Va. (WV MetroNews) The House of Delegates Wednesday passed legislation repealing the state’s prevailing wage law that sets hourly pay rates for workers on state-funded projects. The bill (HB 4005) now goes to the Senate.

The 55-44 vote followed an emotional debate on the House floor between supporters and opponents of the legislation as labor union members and business backers looked on from the gallery.

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Kentucky House panel defeats prevailing wage exemption bill

By Bruce Schreiner | Updated Feb 4, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Cheered on by a roomful of union construction workers, a Kentucky House committee on Thursday defeated a Republican-backed bill to exempt public school projects from the state’s prevailing wage.

The arguments and outcome echoed past years when Senate Republicans made the prevailing-wage exemption a top priority, only to watch it stall in the Democratic-led House.

Republican Sen. Wil Schroder, the bill’s lead sponsor this year, said the issue will certainly resurface next year when the General Assembly’s political dynamics could be changed

(Read More)

State Prevailing Wage Laws Save or Create 400,000 Jobs in America


Posted by Frank Manzo IV
February 9, 2016

CONTACT: Todd Stenhouse, (916) 397-1131 or

Chicago, IL – As policy debates rage in states from Michigan and New Hampshire to New Mexico and West Virginia, researchers from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, Colorado State University-Pueblo, and Smart Cities Prevail have just completed the first ever national study on the economic, social, and project cost impacts of state prevailing wage laws.

Prevailing wage laws govern the wage rates paid to construction workers on government-funded public works projects.

The report, entitled “The Economic, Fiscal, and Social Impacts of State Prevailing Wage Laws: Choosing Between the High Road and the Low Road in the Construction Industry,” utilizes industry standard IMPLAN modeling software and industry comparisons between states with and without prevailing wage laws to assess the impact of these policies on a variety of economic and social factors: including job creation, wages, worksite productivity, rates of in-state contracting, impacts on taxpayers, reliance on government assistance programs, and effects on communities of color and veterans.

(Read More)

(Report Fact Sheet)

(Full Copy of Report)