The Broken Promise

Report from

Legislative leaders pushed through a law to cut local construction workers’ wages dramatically claiming the action would save money and create more jobs.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Republican legislative leaders quickly passed a bill to eliminate the state’s prevailing wage law.

The legislative leadership promised taxpayers would see a savings of 25 to 30 percent on public works projects.

There hasn’t been the promised savings based on examination of the award of bids since July 1 when the law went into effect and during a three-month period in 2015 when the Legislature suspended the prevailing wage law.

(Read More)

Understanding Low-Wage Work in West Virginia

A Look at the People, Industries, Places, and Policies Affected by Low-Wage Work in West Virginia

September 8, 2017
Media Contact: Caitlin Cook

[Charleston, WV] – Poverty is a persistent problem in West Virginia, where tens of thousands of West Virginians live in poverty because their jobs do not pay a living wage. Read the full report.

This 10th annual State of Working West Virginia focuses on low-wage work, including demographics of those who do the work; the industries that employ them; geographic factors; the role of public programs supporting low-wage workers; and policy recommendations to improve economic well-being.

The report reveals the shifting role of low-wage work in the state’s economy, now its main source of job growth, and a path no longer confined to young workers entering the workforce. The complete picture of West Virginia’s economy shows growth in low-wage industries, while non-low wage industries decline, and wages stagnate for both.
“Low-wage work has a profound impact on West Virginia’s economy, from the capabilities of workers to provide for their families, to their health and well-being, all the way to the state budget,” said Sean O’Leary, Interim Executive Director for the West Virginia on Center on Budget and Policy. “As low-wage jobs become more prevalent in the state’s economy, we must consider public policies that support these workers and their families, recognizing their importance to the state.”

Key Findings

  • Twenty-three percent of the state’s workforce is employed in low-wage jobs.
  • Forty-four percent of West Virginia’s workers with less than a high school diploma earn low wages, while the rate of low-wage workers who possess a high school degree or some college is 28 percent.

(Read More)

(Full PDF of Report)

Will West Virginians get the highways jobs?

By Brad McElhinny in News
October 05, 2017 at 3:35PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice says he wants a $1.6 billion road bond to stimulate West Virginia’s economy and create thousands of jobs.

As he’s been asked about the jobs during his tour of the state in support of the road projects, Justice has acknowledged he can’t guarantee all the jobs will be filled by West Virginians. But he always says he hopes as many as possible will go to state residents.

“We’re going to try to hire as many West Virginians as we possibly can to do the jobs. Hopefully we’ll end up hiring every job to be a West Virginian. But reality is, that won’t happen,” Justice said this week in Moorefield.

“I’ll tell you this, those contractors that are hiring people that aren’t from West Virginia, we will urge them to hire people who are from West Virginia. And on top of that, we’ll make sure that every dadgum tax dollar is collected. Every tax dollar.”

West Virginia voters go to the polls Saturday to approve or reject the road bond amendment. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. The Secretary of State’s office reported 37,434 voters participated in the early period that ended Wednesday.

The West Virginia Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation is a supporter of the road bond, but would like greater assurances of employing all West Virginians possible.

“The devil’s in the details,” said Steve White, director of the Affiliated Construction Trades. “He’s been able to push forward a major road building plan that we’ve needed for years.”

White would like to minimize the role of hope. He would like more specifics aimed at ensuring West Virginia contractors and construction workers have every opportunity to compete for the possible infrastructure jobs ahead.

(Read More)

Real Data on Prevailing Wage Show No Savings

Posted: Aug 25, 2016 12:22 PM EDT Updated: Aug 30, 2016 6:00 AM EDT
Guest Columnist – Steve White

If you look at facts, it is clear the repeal of the state prevailing wage law will be one of the most disastrous, job-killing measures our Legislature has ever taken.

Yet it is not surprising writers Bryan Hoylman and Jason Huffman (Aug. 4) claim great savings – without any facts – because they represent the few people who will profit from West Virginia’s wage and job loss created by the repeal.

The current discussion about prevailing wage should be simple: has or has not the promised 25 percent savings from repealing the prevailing wage law been realized? During the legislative session the claim that four schools would be built for the price of three was made many times.

Repeal supporters take us through a twisted logic of hypothetical savings based on wage cuts but never show any actual savings on any real project

(Read More)

Feds: Buckhannon nonprofit violates Fair Labor Standards Act

August 12 2016
Matt Harvey

BUCKHANNON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has revoked a West Virginia nonprofit’s ability to pay less than the current federal minimum wage to workers with disabilities.

The action came after federal investigations found the organization violated provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), according to a news release from the federal agency.

The division found that Buckhannon-Upshur Work Adjustment Center – a nonprofit community rehabilitation program – violated the FLSA when it failed to pay a valid sub-minimum wage to 12 workers with disabilities employed to do light assembly production.

(Read More)

UPDATE: West Virginia House votes to repeal prevailing wage

By WV MetroNews
Posted: Wed 3:17 PM, Jan 27, 2016

CHARELSTON, W.Va. (WV MetroNews) The House of Delegates Wednesday passed legislation repealing the state’s prevailing wage law that sets hourly pay rates for workers on state-funded projects. The bill (HB 4005) now goes to the Senate.

The 55-44 vote followed an emotional debate on the House floor between supporters and opponents of the legislation as labor union members and business backers looked on from the gallery.

(Read More)

Study Perfectly Illustrates Why Arguments Against Prevailing Wage are Illogical and Absurd

March 2015 – As in many states across the country, there is a vigorous debate underway right now in our neighboring state of Nevada over whether construction workers on public projects deserve to be paid the wage that prevails and is paid to the vast majority of construction workers in a state, whether it be on private or public projects (the prevailing wage).

As in those other states, Nevada Democrats are fighting to protect workers’ wages, while Republicans are crusading to slash them. These Republicans, who ran as “middle of the road” Republicans, wooed and appealed to the values of union working people, who failed to recognize them for the threat they were. These Republican politicians won the votes of too many unionized workers, including Building Trades workers, and took over Nevada’s government.

But they were wolves in sheep’s clothing, and once in power, reverted to their true nature, taking a terrible toll on the working families that helped elect them.

(Read More)

(PDF Copy of Study)

Compromise afoot in Senate on prevailing wage bill

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

By Joel Ebert, Capitol Bureau



Senate Republicans finalized a compromise on a bill that seeks to reform the state’s prevailing wage law late Wednesday afternoon.

The compromise would alter Senate Bill 361, which originally sought an outright repeal of prevailing wage rates for public construction projects.

Under the latest version of the bill, the outright repeal would be removed but two key components would be included.

One aspect would allow state-funded projects under $500,000 to not be subjected to prevailing wage rates.

The second aspect would change the manner in which the prevailing wage rates are determined. Currently the West Virginia Division of Labor determines the hourly prevailing wage rates by sending out a survey to both union and non-union companies throughout the state.

(Read More)

New Study Released on the Impact of Prevailing Wage Repeal in West Virginia

January 28, 2015

The Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, a division of the West Virginia State Building Trades, has just released a study by Michael Kelsay, Ph.D., University of Missouri- Kansas City, Dept. of Economics, on the adverse economic impact from prevailing wage repeal in the state. Please follow the link below for a full copy of the report.

(Read More)