By Stephanie Chang
Dec 17, 2017
The main thing Michiganders need to remember about the prevailing wage repeal proposal is this: Do not be fooled.
This year, special interests collected signatures to put the question of repealing Michigan’s long-standing prevailing wage law before the Legislature or on the ballot – often misconstruing the true intent of what their petition would do.
I oppose this proposal, and one need only visit my Detroit and Downriver district to understand why.
Michigan’s prevailing wage law ensures that our publicly financed buildings, roads, bridges and utilities are constructed using highly skilled and trained workers who are paid the regional average for their trade. The law doesn’t artificially inflate wages or the cost of construction and doesn’t force workers to be union members.
It just ensures that the people building our infrastructure earn a fair wage and benefits, and that their pay reflects their level of training. The law keeps skilled tradespeople and their families here in Michigan, where they participate in the economy and pay taxes.
Michigan created the middle class, and I am seriously concerned when the middle class is threatened by the potential slashing of wages and benefits for our hardworking friends, neighbors and family members.
Mistakes happen when inexperienced, lesser-trained workers do the work.
For example, there is courthouse in a community outside of Detroit that took 21 months to complete – far longer than the six months anticipated. From the noisy HVAC system that prevented judges from being able to hear proceedings to the counter windows missing holes for clerks to speak through, the shoddy work increased project costs tremendously.