NAFC will be holding its 2017 Annual Conference in Music City U.S.A. – Nashville, Tennessee. The Conference will be held at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, in the heart of the city. NAFC’s National Conference is attended by several hundred participants from across the nation, including representatives from labor organizations, fair contractors, fair contracting compliance organizations as well as researchers, academics, attorneys and officials from federal, state and local governments. Stay tuned for further details, early registration is now available at the link below.
Abdur Chowdhury, Professor, Department of Economics, Marquette University
February 1, 2017
Prevailing wage laws have been the focus of public policy debate in the United States for some time now. …
The prevailing wage concept arises from the concern that unbridled competition among employers to pay low wages in construction would lead to a less-skilled and less-productive workforce and to shoddy construction practices and unsafe public buildings and infrastructure.
Attempts to repeal the prevailing wage laws in a number of states are based upon the claim that repeal will save dollars on total construction costs and will bolster state and local budgets. However, there seems to be a disconnect between what the critics of these laws are saying and the reality on the ground. For example, take the case of military veterans. Missing entirely from the debate is the fact that military veterans pursue jobs in the construction trades at substantially higher rates than non-veterans. An estimated half a million veterans are currently employed as construction workers. And this means that any effort to weaken or eliminate these laws would have an outsized impact on veterans. …
Two recent studies, Manzo et al (2016a, 2016b), have analyzed the impact of prevailing wage laws on military veterans. They have found that the economic conditions of veterans would be profoundly affected if states with strong-to-moderate prevailing wage laws were to weaken their standards. The authors showed that prevailing wage laws are vital to all construction worker wages, but are especially crucial for veterans whose post-military service work skews blue collar at a higher rate than other demographics. …
More than 75 percent of recent, peer-reviewed academic studies on this issue have concluded that prevailing wage laws do not increase the total cost of construction. Prevailing wage laws result in higher productivity and taxpayer savings on materials, fuel, and equipment costs. …
These findings in Manzo et al (2016a, 2016b) are consistent with the overwhelming majority of research indicating that the costs of building public structures, such as schools, highways, and street and sewer projects, etc., are unaffected by the presence of municipal, state, or federal prevailing wage laws.
Published February 05. 2017 12:01AM
Governor Malloy has made a recommendation to raise the threshold as to when our state’s prevailing wage law is triggered on public works construction projects. Connecticut currently has the second highest thresholds in the country, and the highest in New England.
To those who don’t work in the construction industry, this controversial political topic seems wonky and confusing. But here’s how it works: Connecticut’s current threshold is $400,000 for new construction and $100,000 for renovation. That means that the prevailing wage law is triggered when public project costs those amounts. If a project falls below those thresholds, then workers only have to be paid the minimum wage. When Gov. Malloy proposes an increase to the threshold, he is proposing that more workers be paid the minimum wage rather than the family-sustaining prevailing wage.
The truth is this proposal won’t in any way alter our state’s budgetary woes. In fact, it will do just the opposite: eliminate the kind of fair-paying, middle-class jobs that we should try to keep and grow in our state.
One of the biggest takeaways from November’s election is that working families throughout Connecticut are frustrated with stagnant wages and a stagnant economy. Yet, instead of investing in job growth, the governor and some legislators have contended that middle-class wages, including prevailing wages, are too high. But before the public is again sold this recurring bill of goods, let’s break down some of their arguments.
January 27, 2017 1:08 pm
What troubles me the most about certain far-right-leaning legislators’ recent efforts to further erode prevailing-wage laws is the false propaganda used in an effort to justify their mission.
It’s time to be honest.
They are on a clear mission to lower the family incomes of middle-class construction workers.
Prevailing-wage laws ensure that public, taxpayer-funded bidding practices do not undercut local construction wages and benefits. Using local wage data from private construction, the government sets rates for public construction projects that allow contractors to pay wages, health care and retirement benefits that retain skilled workers.
This is good public policy. Why? The laws reduce the likelihood that construction workers will need to rely on public assistance by ensuring they are paid family sustaining wages. The laws also spur local economic development by increasing the likelihood that local contractors and employees are building local public-works projects. In other words, taxpayer money spent by state and local governments stays in Wisconsin rather than being exported.
Paul Gehl, Community columnist
8:12 a.m. CT Jan. 21, 2017
We have to do a better job of supporting our returning military veterans in Wisconsin – whether it is improving their health care, job opportunities, pay scale or all of the above.
I read recently with great irony that the Wisconsin executive director of Americans For Prosperity (Eric Bott) believes that wage protections – specifically Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws – should be repealed so veterans can actually enjoy more job opportunities and better wages. That is not a misprint. A guy from a group promoting “prosperity” is suggesting less is more for our honorable veterans. No sir, more is more for our veterans.
I am a veteran, a longtime American Legion member and the former president of Lunda Construction. While president of Lunda I was proud to employ many veterans who were extremely interested in continuing their service to country building critical infrastructure like highways, schools and bridges that helped keep our communities safe for our families.
A 2016 study by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute found recent changes to Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws implemented by the Wisconsin legislature “will have a disproportionate impact on veteran(s)” because veterans are more likely to work in the construction trades than non-veterans and these law changes will result in lower wages for construction workers. Specifically, the study estimates that the changes going into effect this month will result in the loss of more than 2,000 jobs and $13 million in lost wages for veterans. Mr. Bott throws out various red herrings to misdirect and obfuscate but in the end he cannot refute the study’s core findings – veterans work in construction at higher rates than non-veterans so by definition a repeal of prevailing wage disproportionately hurts veterans.
Good Jobs First
Washington, DC, February 21, 2017-While Washington is focused on deregulation, the country’s first database on corporate crime has documented the wave of cases against major companies resolved by the Obama Administration during its final weeks.
Violation Tracker, a public service of Good Jobs First’s Corporate Research Project launched in 2015, today posted recent enforcement records showing that between Election Day and the inauguration, the Justice Department and other federal agencies obtained more than $20 billion in penalties and settlements from dozens of companies accused of a wide range of offenses involving financial, environmental, health and other harms to large numbers of people.
Violation Tracker is available and free at http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/violation-tracker.
“Given the Trump Administration’s focus on deregulation rather than enforcement, the Obama Administration’s wave of case resolutions may represent Uncle Sam’s last hurrah against business misconduct for some time,” said Good Jobs First Research Director Philip Mattera, who leads the work on Violation Tracker. “The data in Violation Tracker should give pause to those who argue for less oversight.”
In addition to the recent cases, Violation Tracker now includes data from nine additional federal agencies, bringing the total to 39. Among the nine are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, both of which deal with allegations of workplace discrimination. Wage theft cases brought by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division as well as related private litigation will be covered in an update to Violation Tracker later this year.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, January 7, 2017, 9:00 PM
ALBANY – Gov. Cuomo is set to propose legislation that will allow the state to aggressively go after wage theft in New York, the Daily News has learned.
The bill, to be announced as part of the governor’s State of the State agenda he’ll be releasing this week, would hold the top 10 officials from out-of-state limited liability companies, or LLCs, personally financially liable for unsatisfied judgments for unpaid wages.
The legislation will empower the state Labor Department commissioner to enforce such liabilities.
The idea, Cuomo said, is to recover more money employees were cheated out of when businesses went bankrupt – and went on to create spinoff limited liability companies registered in other states or hid their assets in other ways.
“New York is committed to ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and has zero tolerance for those who seek to exploit their workers,” Cuomo said.
“With this proposal we will help ensure that no matter where bad actors try to hide, they will not be able to skirt their obligations to hard-working New Yorkers. ”
By KEITH M. PHANEUF
February 21, 2017, 6:08 PM
The clash over labor costs intensified Tuesday at the state Capitol.
While one legislative panel split down the middle over whether to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage, unions and their allies rallied to battle proposals that would allow communities to cut worker wages on public construction projects.
And while the labor committee battled over the minimum wage, the Connecticut Building Trades Council, other unions and their allies rallied to block proposed changes to Connecticut’s prevailing wage statute.
Currently, municipal remodeling projects that cost more than $100,000 and new construction projects costing more than $400,000 must meet a competitive wage scale based on the regional market. Municipal officials say, though, that this standard generally reflects artificially inflated costs paid chiefly to unionized construction workers.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, proposed new parameters in January of $500,000 for remodeling work and $1 million for new construction.
House and Senate Republicans also have introduced bills to raise the thresholds.
“I just don’t know what’s wrong with this building,” said Lori J. Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, who was referring to both the prevailing wage proposals and to the opposition to the minimum wage hike. “That’s not the kind of state that we are.”
“We understand that raising thresholds are not good for workers,” said David Roche, president of the building trades council.
21 FEBRUARY 2017 BY MILITARY NEWS
SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Feb. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Three key legislators, State Senate Labor Committee Chairman Daniel Biss and State Representatives Lisa Hernandez and Carol Ammons, have joined forces with worker advocates, including HourVoice and United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 881, to introduce groundbreaking legislation (SB1720) to crack down on wage theft in Illinois. Wage theft is estimated to cost American workers over $50 billion per year and news reports have shown Illinois is a very difficult state for workers to recoup stolen wages.
“Our Illinois Fighting Wage Theft Act increases the penalties on companies that commit serious wage theft and prohibits those companies from receiving state government contracts for at least five years,” said State Senator and Labor Committee Chairman Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), who is sponsoring the bill. “Fair to both workers and businesses, SB1720 will level the playing field. Workers deserve to get paid every dollar they’ve earned and employers who treat workers properly and play by the rules shouldn’t be undercut by competitors who cheat their workers.”
Wage theft takes many forms, including: shorting workers on their hours, not paying the minimum wage, and not properly paying overtime. It most commonly victimizes low-paid workers; the very people who most need the money they earn.
Workers in nearly every industry are affected. For example, fast food giant Domino’s was caught using payroll software that systematically underpaid workers, and a major road contractor paid with our Illinois tax dollars was caught shorting its workers by $1.5 million.
February 22, 20179:39 AM CST
BY BARB KUCERA
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Workers and communities suffer – and businesses face unfair competition – when companies cheat their employees through wage theft, Minnesota advocates told lawmakers at a mid-February hearing at the state capitol in St. Paul. They called on the legislature to pass measures to strengthen enforcement against this widespread problem.
“If you work for a living, you should get paid!” said Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, one of the authors of the anti-wage theft legislation. Several legislators, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith and state Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Ken Peterson listened as workers described how their paychecks have been stolen by unscrupulous employers.
One of the most egregious current examples is Lakeville Motor Express, a trucking firm that allegedly changed its name and location to avoid paying thousands of dollars to its workers. Their union, Teamsters Local 120, is leading an effort to recoup what was lost.
“We are union strong and we are here to fight for our rights!” said Samuel Nunn, one of the 95 affected workers.