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Criminal Justice & Legal System

State Legislature gets rid of prevailing wage

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After multiple attempts, Michigan’s prevailing wage law is now eliminated. The Legislature passed a voter-initiated measure today to get rid of the law. It requires state construction contracts to pay union-scale wages.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has tried in the past to get rid of the law. But the efforts didn’t go anywhere because they knew Governor Rick Snyder would likely veto any repeal bill. Snyder cannot veto a voter-initiated law.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Grand Haven, says this is a win for taxpayers.

“Anytime that the government mandates a wage for something, it isn’t necessarily going to be the best wage," he said. "The market will find the right level of payment for folks for the job that’s being performed.”

Supporters of prevailing wage say without it, workers will leave and the state already has a skilled trades shortage.

Union members and skilled trade workers gathered at the Capitol to oppose the vote. Tom Lutz is with the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. He says everyone in the skilled trades should be worried about being paid less – not just union members.

“It will and has effected in the surrounding states, every construction worker,” he said.

Opponents of prevailing wage say it added unnecessary cost for taxpayers.

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