Kent-Ionia Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class

Michigan Operating Engineers officer defends state’s prevailing wage law

GRAND RAPIDS February 5, 2015– As Republican legislators in Lansing mull repealing Michigan’s prevailing wage law, Douglas Stockwell, business manager for the 14,000 members of Michigan’s Operating Engineers Local 324, has come out swinging.

Douglas Stockwell

Douglas Stockwell

Stockwell wrote a column for MLive (Ignore the Special Interests and Keep Michigan’s Prevailing Wage, Feb. 5, 2015) in response to right-wing ideologue Ken Braun’s recent attack on the Michigan law that requires state government to pay fair union wages on construction projects.

For point of reference, Braun is a former Republican legislative aide and employee of the anti-labor Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He is anti-government and a bulldog for corporate interests, and uses “free market” ideology as an excuse to allow businesses to do what they wish, regardless of how it affects workers.

From Stockwell’s column:

There is a lot Braun doesn’t seem to want you to know about Michigan’s Prevailing Wage law. So let’s set the record straight.

The Prevailing Wage Act guarantees workers who build public works projects are paid a fair and decent wage so they can provide for their families and stimulate local economies by keeping tax dollars within our communities. Additionally, the Act protects taxpayers by making sure only the highest qualified and skilled workers are on the job.

Who benefits from a repeal of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Act? It isn’t Michigan’s communities or workers. It’s special interests like the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and low-bid construction outfits that import workers from out of state. In many cases, these workers, in addition to be unskilled, are often undocumented.

What Braun won’t tell you is many of these workers will end up sending their taxpayer paid wages back home, far from Michigan, while our local skilled labor remains unemployed.

Additionally, Braun ignores recent research by Dr. Dale Belman, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University, that states, “For every hour worked by a skilled trades construction worker at a $28.00/hour base rate, there is at least $14.59 paid in taxes per hour into local, county, state and federal units of government. If that skilled trades worker works 1,400 hours a year, that means they’ve generated over $20,426 a year in taxes.”

It’s clear Braun’s narrow political agenda ignores the real world benefits of paying a fair and decent wage to Michigan’s skilled construction workers. Repealing Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Act would damage our economy and drive our most skilled workers out of state.

What Braun is really advocating is driving down wages in a race to the bottom. Braun’s scheme is an assault on Michigan workers, Michigan businesses and Michigan communities. That’s exactly what Braun and the special interests don’t want you to know.

Read Stockwell’s full column here.

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This entry was posted on February 5, 2015 by in Political news and tagged , , , , .
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