Daily Court Reporter - News Repeal of prevailing wages for construction workers faces opposition
Repeal of prevailing wages for construction workers faces opposition
ELISSA COLLOPY, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
State Representatives John Becker and Craig Reidel are seeking the repeal of Ohio's prevailing wage law for the construction trades workforce by introducing House Joint Resolution 9.
Prevailing wage laws currently require contractors who work on certain projects to pay construction workers the region's standards for hourly wages, benefits and overtime, calculated by the Ohio Department of Commerce.
This introduction of HJR 9 is seen as "another attack on Ohio's construction trades workforce, both union and non-union," according to Affiliated Construction Trades Ohio.
New research from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute found that Indiana's 2015 repeal of prevailing wage law has failed to produce taxpayer savings and has had a negative effect on job growth, productivity and wages, according to a press release.
"The new numbers out of Indiana support the findings of the 2017 study conducted in Ohio by researchers from Bowling Green University, Kent State University and Colorado State University," said Matthew Szollosi, executive director of ACT Ohio.
"Both studies reveal that repeal of prevailing wage would result in lower wages for skilled construction craftsmen and women. The lower wages and loss of health care coverage for those middle class workers would force many onto public assistance," said Szollosi. "These two studies should help Representatives Becker and Riedel separate rhetoric from reality on the issue of prevailing wage."
According to studies, prevailing wage laws promote a skilled, highly-trained construction workforce, according to ACT Ohio.
Key findings of the study include: construction workers in states with prevailing wage laws are up to 30 percent more productive than their counterparts in states without the law; states without the law have higher worksite fatality rates; prevailing wage repeal reduces registration in apprenticeship programs by 40 percent; and prevailing wage prevents the use of cheap outside labor, promoting the use of skilled local craftspeople.
The study conducted in Ohio also found that labor amounts to only 23 percent of construction costs across the country.
Indiana Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Ed Soliday told attendees at the 2017 TDA Economic Forum "We got rid of Prevailing Wage and so far it hasn't saved us a penny ... There is not a 22 percent cost savings when the total cost of labor is 22 percent."
In addition to lower wages, slow job growth and lack of savings, prior peer-reviewed studies also showed additional impacts including less local hiring, higher poverty and lower economic output.
Date Published: February 22, 2018