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Indiana abolishes prevailing wage; similar proposals introduced in two other Midwestern states

by Grant Gregory ~ June 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The future of some states' decades-old prevailing-wage laws is in doubt this year, with one repeal already passed in Indiana and similar proposals under consideration in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Under these laws, government contractors must provide their employees with union-level wages and benefits for state or local public works projects. In Indiana, for example, a local five-person committee (representing contractors, industry, unions and local taxpayers) reviews wage data and then establishes a pay scale for workers on any project with a cost of more than $350,000.
But starting in July, this process for setting a "common construction wage" ends when Indiana's HB 1019 takes effect. The bill's proponents say this repeal of prevailing wage will cut local government spending and save taxpayer dollars. Similar arguments are being made by those in favor of proposed repeals in Michigan (SB 3) and Wisconsin (AB 32). The Michigan Senate passed SB 3, but Gov. Rick Snyder has indicated he would not support it. One alternative in Michigan is to seek the change via a ballot initiative.
In May, after a Senate committee approved the repeal, Michigan’s Building & Construction Trades Council called the vote a "sad state of affairs." In addition to helping provide workers with adequate wages and benefits, the council says, prevailing-wage laws help maintain efficiency, quality and safety in government-funded projects. In a fourth Midwestern state, Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner has made a repeal of prevailing wage part of his "turnaround agenda." Ohio exempts school construction projects from the state law.