Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
GRAND RAPIDS July 30, 2015– For the past 50 years, Michigan’s prevailing wage law has ensured that workers on state-funded construction projects (schools, libraries, fire stations, local roads) receive the local wage and benefit rate. Not only does this law make sure workers are paid fairly, but it helps ensure quality work is done on publicly-funded projects.
Now anti-worker politicians and business groups are actively working to repeal this law.
But workers are fighting back. The Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council has launched a campaign called “Decline to Sign.” Click here for a letter from the Council explaining the campaign to save prevailing wage and click here for a Decline to Sign flyer to print and distribute.
Some background on the fight: Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive), who was largely responsible for passing Michigan’s right-to-work law three years ago, now has his sights on Michigan workers yet again– this time by driving a scheme to eliminate Michigan’s prevailing wage.
From Meekhof’s website:
“Since my days as a township official, I have viewed prevailing wages laws as an unnecessary burden on our schools and local communities,” said Meekhof. “It does not make sense that our taxpayers should have to pay more for improvements to our school and municipal buildings. The extra cost of prevailing wage laws siphons money away from other community priorities.”
But despite Meekhof’s claims, repealing prevailing wage in Michigan will not ease the tax burden for Michigan residents, and it won’t shift money to other “community priorities.” In fact, by paying construction and trades workers less, and opening up bids to out-of-state labor, it will reduce Michigan’s tax base significantly– putting a greater burden on our state and communities to find funding to serve Michigan’s residents. Plus, it will open the door to lower-paid and less-skilled workers doing low-quality work on our schools, libraries and other public projects.
So what kind of support does Meekhof have in his fight to repeal prevailing wage? Very little. Almost two-thirds of likely Michigan voters support keeping the law in place, only 20 percent want it gone, and Gov. Rick Snyder has said he would veto any legislation that repealed the prevailing wage.
But that’s not stopping Meekhof from turning to underhanded methods of getting it done.
Instead of passing a repeal through normal legislative process– and risk a veto at the governor’s desk– Meekhof has partnered with the pro-business groups and anti-tax organizations to shove through a voter-initiated law which would not be subject to the governor’s veto pen.
The voter-initiated law process looks like this: The special interest groups behind the prevailing wage repeal need only 3% of registered voters to sign a petition supporting the repeal– about 252,000 signatures. The bill then goes to the legislature for a straight up or down vote. With right-wing politicians controlling both chambers of the state house, it would most-likely pass.
At that point, it’s the law of Michigan without ever crossing the Governor’s desk, and with only THREE PERCENT of Michigan voters actually signing the petition to make it happen.
What you need to know about the petition and the scheme to repeal prevailing wage (from the Michigan Building & Construction Trades):
You should know that the petition you are being asked to sign will give politicians the ability to eliminate Michigan prevailing wage laws. This means lower pay for construction workers. Period.
Some circulators are lying to get signatures. Make no mistake about it, this petition:
- WILL NOT Raise the minimum wage.
- WILL NOT Open the door for minority contractors.
- WILL NOT Increase school funding ANYWHERE in the state.
- WILL ABSOLUTELY NOT protect prevailing wage.
The truth of this issue is exactly the opposite of what they have told some potential signers. A repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage laws will open the floodgates to allow construction jobs to go to undocumented, unskilled workers.
By signing this petition, you are agreeing to:
- Lower the wages of construction workers.
- Allow your tax dollars to be used to hire out-of-state, undocumented, unskilled workers take Michigan construction jobs.
- Potentially eliminate safety standards and drug testing for workers on public construction projects.
Don’t be fooled, and don’t sign these petitions. The drive is being conducted by an out of state vendor. Who knows what happens with your valuable information once you hand over your name, address and signature.