Prevailing wage: Good for workers, good for business (CT)

AUGUST 28, 2017
KIMBERLY GLASSMAN

Gov. Malloy and the legislature are considering deep cuts to municipal aid in order to rectify an over $3 billion budget deficit. Connecticut’s Conference of Municipalities (CCM) is rightfully concerned, and looking for other means to keep municipal budgets balanced. One of its main proposals is to raise the thresholds as to when our state’s prevailing wage law is triggered on public construction projects.

Connecticut’s current prevailing wage thresholds are $400,000 for new construction and $100,000 for renovations. If a project falls below that threshold, then workers only have to be paid the minimum wage. When CCM proposes an increase to the thresholds, they’re proposing that more construction workers be paid the minimum wage rather than the family sustaining prevailing wage.

The truth is CCM’s proposal will make Connecticut less competitive. Our neighboring states, Massachusetts and New York, have a zero threshold on prevailing wage, meaning that the wage protection is triggered on dollar one on public works projects. Rhode Island’s prevailing wage threshold is $1,000, which is less than the federal threshold of $2,000. And New Jersey’s threshold is $15,444. We don’t want to lose skilled workers to our surrounding states.

Opponents to prevailing wage perpetuate a misconception that the wage protection somehow only benefits union workers or union companies. But that is not true. Non-union contractors also perform work on publicly funded projects. And all construction workers, regardless of union affiliation, benefit from the prevailing wage law. Prevailing wage rates are based on surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor of what local contractors actually pay workers on public works projects in the state.

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Forum: Prevailing wage protects the construction industry and Connecticut’s economy

By Roland Lemar
POSTED: 02/26/17, 8:57 PM EST

There have been numerous legislative proposals introduced this year to alter the thresholds that trigger when the Connecticut’s prevailing wage law is applied to public works construction projects. Connecticut’s current threshold is $400,000 for new construction and $100,000 for renovation. That means that a public project must cost that amount for the prevailing wage law to apply.

If a project falls below that threshold, then workers only have to be paid the minimum wage rather than the family-sustaining prevailing wage. Connecticut currently has the second-highest thresholds in the country, and the highest by far in New England.

Those that have proposed an increase to the prevailing wage thresholds have indicated that their proposals will alleviate budgetary constraints on our municipalities. I do not believe that is the case. Further weakening of our state’s prevailing wage law will do just the opposite, and will further eliminate the kind of fair-paying, middle-class jobs that we should try to keep and grow in our state.

Two economics professors at the University of Utah, Peter Phillips and Cihan Bilingsoy, conducted a study in 2010, titled “Impact of Prevailing Wages on the Economy and Communities of Connecticut,” which found that repeal of the prevailing wage law would result in the loss of $21.6 million in income tax revenue. Other studies have shown that every dollar spent on a prevailing wage project generates a $1.50 in economic activity – that’s money spent at local businesses such as restaurants and auto body shops. Prevailing wages keep workers off public assistance and allow them to contribute to our local economies – which is a good investment for our state.

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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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Battles Over Labor’s Wages Heats Up At Capitol (CT)

By KEITH M. PHANEUF
February 21, 2017, 6:08 PM

The clash over labor costs intensified Tuesday at the state Capitol.

While one legislative panel split down the middle over whether to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage, unions and their allies rallied to battle proposals that would allow communities to cut worker wages on public construction projects.

And while the labor committee battled over the minimum wage, the Connecticut Building Trades Council, other unions and their allies rallied to block proposed changes to Connecticut’s prevailing wage statute.

Currently, municipal remodeling projects that cost more than $100,000 and new construction projects costing more than $400,000 must meet a competitive wage scale based on the regional market. Municipal officials say, though, that this standard generally reflects artificially inflated costs paid chiefly to unionized construction workers.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, proposed new parameters in January of $500,000 for remodeling work and $1 million for new construction.

House and Senate Republicans also have introduced bills to raise the thresholds.

“I just don’t know what’s wrong with this building,” said Lori J. Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, who was referring to both the prevailing wage proposals and to the opposition to the minimum wage hike. “That’s not the kind of state that we are.”
“We understand that raising thresholds are not good for workers,” said David Roche, president of the building trades council.

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