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Politics & Government

Gov. Whitmer directs state agency to reinstate prevailing wage requirements

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steve carmody
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Michigan Radio

The State of Michigan will once again require construction contracts to pay workers a prevailing wage.

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer made the announcement alongside union members Thursday morning in Lansing.

“When we don’t pay a prevailing wage, there is a cost associated with that. Right? We don’t ensure we get the best qualified people on the job, we don’t ensure that we get the outcomes that taxpayers should expect,” Whitmer said.

The state Legislature repealed Michigan’s prevailing wage requirements in 2018 by taking up a voter initiative.

Whitmer is now reinstating the policy through executive directive. She said the Department of Technology, Management and Budget has the authority to set pay standards in the terms for state contracts.

“When the Michigan Legislature changed the law, they made it into not requiring prevailing wage. They didn’t preclude administrations from pursuing it,” Whitmer said.

Her announcement is drawing the ire of some interest groups, which are calling the move “illegal.”

The Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan is among them. Association president Jimmy Greene said the group will sue to prevent the wage requirement.

“Our folks who are not union folks aren’t standing in welfare lines or unemployment lines trying to offset wages that people say are less than the median wage. That’s just not true,” Greene said.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is another organization considering a range of responses to the governor’s announcement. Chamber president and CEO Rich Studley noted the move comes just weeks after Whitmer announced a record-breaking bipartisan budget deal with the Republican-led Legislature.

“If she was planning to take this action, why didn’t she tell state lawmakers two or three weeks ago before they sent her a budget?” Studley asked.

He said his organization is waiting to see how state lawmakers respond before deciding on whether to sue.

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