Stand Up For Vets By Rejecting Prevailing Wage Repeal

By on April 18, 2017

From Springfield News-Leader:  Despite all the election year rhetoric about lifting wages and taking care of veterans, Missouri legislators are considering doing just the opposite by repealing our prevailing wage law.

A repeal of prevailing wage will hurt Missouri veterans, our economy and the construction industry. It won’t save money, either.

This is not hyperbole. It is literally what the research tells us.

Prevailing wage is a minimum wage for publicly funded skilled construction work. In fact, it is the local market rate, based on surveys that reflect what workers in different skilled trades actually earn in the community. Prevailing wage laws were enacted by Republicans more than 80 years ago to promote local hiring and quality workmanship. When it comes to tax dollars and our critical infrastructure, both of these virtues are important.

Construction skills are also vital to the work our military does in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Our service men and women are trained for project leadership, maximizing productivity, and as members of teams that depend on efficiency. In addition to fighting, we also help rebuild schools, roads and bridges.

In fact, the military provides more than one in five registered apprenticeships in the U.S. today. So, not surprisingly, veterans are far more likely to pursue careers in the skilled construction trades than non-veterans. Prevailing wage standards actually increase these trends by making these occupations more than jobs — but genuine middle-class career pathways.

Degrading minimum wage and benefit standards for skilled construction workers has the opposite effect.

Research shows that repeal of prevailing wage laws would reduce veterans’ income by billions of dollars and cost tens of thousands of veterans their jobs or health insurance. Worse, it would begin a race to the bottom that outsources what were once local middle-class jobs to lower-skilled workers from outside the state or even outside the country. Many American manufacturing jobs have already gone to Mexico and China for the same reason.

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About Dede Hance