Updated 11:25 p.m. ET Dec. 7, 2017
Lansing – A coalition of construction unions and contractors are launching a petition drive for an initiative to preserve Michigan’s prevailing wage law, an attempt to thwart a separate petition drive seeking repeal.
The state’s Republican-led Legislature could decide early next year whether to scrap the 1965 law, which requires union-rate wages and benefits on state-financed or sponsored construction projects.
But the Michigan Prevails coalition and the Protect Michigan Jobs ballot committee are urging legislators against taking up the repeal initiative.
“They can do what they want to do, but make no bones about it, we are not going to take this lying down,” said Patrick Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, who is helping organize the counter-petition.
The Protect Michigan Taxpayers ballot committee, funded largely by an association representing contractors who do not use union labor, last month submitted more than 380,000 signatures for a repeal plan. If approved by the Board of State Canvassers, the measure would advance to legislators.
“This isn’t just about the unions,” said Mike Crawford, executive director for the Michigan Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association. “This is very much a business issue. The prevailing wage law … makes sure that public construction projects are bid on an equal footing, at least as far as labor is concerned.”