Prevailing wage: myth vs. reality (CT)

Published February 05. 2017 12:01AM
Kimberly Glassman

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.

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