Time to be honest about prevailing wages

Robb Kahl
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.

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