By Alex Lantsberg
May 19, 2017, 4:00 AM
California has a housing crisis. Supply has not kept pace with demand. Rents and home prices are soaring and many working families are being priced out of the market altogether.
The state Legislature is considering myriad ideas for reform. One that has generated a lot of push-back from the building industry is incorporating prevailing wage standards into more residential projects.
“Prevailing wage” refers to what’s generally paid to skilled craft workers in different regions. Based on local employer surveys, it includes hourly pay, benefits and training costs for dozens of different construction occupations. It sometimes, but not always, reflects union rates. Typically required on publicly funded construction projects, prevailing wages encourage contractors to compete based on workers’ skill, experience and productivity, as well as on innovative project management – not merely on who can pay their workers the least. Decades of peer-reviewed research have linked prevailing wages with higher-quality craftsmanship, more local hiring and lower poverty rates among construction workers.
Peer-reviewed research has linked prevailing wages with higher-quality craftsmanship, more local hiring and lower poverty rates among construction workers.
Some builders and developers falsely claim that paying prevailing wages would lead to higher housing prices and make the state’s affordability crisis worse. They’re wrong; they want to maintain a status quo that allows them to line their pockets at the expense of workers and taxpayers.