Prevailing wage law good for Wisconsin

Steve Lyons, Wisconsin Contractor Coalition
9 a.m. CDT April 25, 2015

 

Currently there is an effort to repeal or substantially minimize Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law. This would hurt Wisconsin businesses, its skilled labor force and our economy.

Wisconsin’s prevailing wage regulations require that construction workers on public works be paid a specified combined wage and benefit package, broken down by trade and location. The rates are set based on the wages and benefits paid on projects similar to public works in the local area.

This public procurement regulation has recently raised two questions: Should the government interfere with the “free market?” Should construction on public works have a special minimum wage regulation?

Government is the single largest purchaser of local construction services. In 2012, in Wisconsin, 20 percent of all construction purchases were public works.

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New Study: ROAD AND BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS IN THE MIDWEST

Productive, High-Skilled, and Well-Paid

March 1, 2015

Road and Bridge Construction Workers in the Midwest was co-authored by Frank Manzo, Policy Director of the Midwest Economic Policy Institute, and Professor Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations.  It  looks at the economic and construction-related benefits of skilled workers in the Great Lakes region, which the study defined as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Executive Summary

Construction workers who specialize in road and bridge infrastructure projects are productive, high-skilled, and well-paid in America’s “Great Lakes” region- which comprises Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Key findings from this report include:

  • Employment in construction jobs is expected to increase by 21.4 percent over the next decade, the second-fastest growing occupation. The majority of these new employment opportunities will require the completion of a three- to five-year apprenticeship program.
  • In 2013, three out of every five new construction jobs in the Great Lakes region were filled by a candidate with an associate’s or apprenticeship degree.
  •  Road and bridge construction workers each produce an average of $155,100 in economic value for the Great Lakes region, second only to their counterparts in the Far West states ($162,461 per worker). Wisconsin’s street, highway, and bridge construction workers were the most productive in the Great Lakes region, annually contributing an average of $184,592 to the economy.
  •  Construction workers in the Great Lakes region build highways in a cost-effective manner, constructing each lane-mile up to 43 percent cheaper than the national average.
  • The apprenticeship share- the ratio of active apprentices to total workers in construction occupations- is higher in states with a prevailing wage law (7.7 percent) than in states without a prevailing wage law (5.4 percent). Additionally, 10 percentage-point increase in a state’s construction industry unionization rate is associated with a 3.2 percentage-point average increase in its apprenticeship share.

Construction workers across the Great Lakes region are well-compensated and can support a middle-class family. Road and bridge construction workers receive significant training in the Great Lakes states and, in turn, translate their increased human capital into higher levels of productivity for employers. Unfortunately, there are threats across the Midwest to weaken the institutions that are statistically correlated with increased worker efficiency, including prevailing wage laws and trades unions. If the Great Lakes region is to remain one of the nation’s leaders in worker productivity on public construction projects, these institutions must be both defended and strengthened.

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US Labor Department and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development sign agreement to reduce misclassification of employees

WHD NEWS Brief: 1/20/2015 
Release Number: 15-0062-NAT

Description: Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of protecting the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses. Under the agreement both agencies will share information and coordinate law enforcement.

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(Copy of MOU)