End prevailing wage law

If area stores and other service-related businesses were to pay “prevailing wages,” prices would skyrocket and customers would be screaming mad.
Feb 21, 2013


Well, this is happening right under our noses on a much larger scale, and it’s costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

Under Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Act, projects financed with state funding, such as bond issues, require that union wages and benefits be paid by non-union contractors. This increases the cost of a project 10 to 15 percent, with no appreciable benefit to taxpayers.

The law acts as a “super minimum wage” that sets wages much higher than local construction wages determined by fair competition in the free market.

Projects that fall under this archaic act include any state buildings, highways and school projects being funded by bond issues. There is also a separate federal prevailing wage law that covers all federal construction projects.

When companies bid on these projects, they have to figure in prevailing wages, supplied by the state, for the masons, electricians, plumbers and others — making the project considerably more expensive.

Especially in a time when government and schools are strapped for cash, it is ridiculous to have them pay millions more than necessary on construction projects.

State Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, has once again introduced legislation to repeal the law. It has been co-sponsored by several other senators.

Meekhof’s favorite example is an Allendale school project from the time the senator first entered office. Of the project's $59 million price tag, 10 percent was attributed to the prevailing wage law. Over the course of a 30-year bond, that cost the district $12 million, according to the senator.

Hudsonville Public Schools is presently accepting bids on an $80 million bond issue. The prevailing wage law is expected to cost the district more than $8 million.

Unions argue that the law ensures high-quality work and protects employees from exploitation. But state labor laws and bidding requirements should meet those goals.

There is no evidence to show any difference in the work between private and union construction, except the cost.

We commend Sen. Meekhof for bringing this up again. It should be voted out of committee, passed by both chambers and signed by the governor. It only makes sense.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Yea, Meekhof is a real champion for the working man. Not!!!!!!


to have a higher minimum wage is only a dream, small employers all ready said they wouldnt hire at that rate or it would put them out of buissness, just what we need


The issue is not that the workers are making too much money. The CEO’s and stock holders are making way too much money. The management of America’s corporations are the richest in the world. What Republican Kool-Aid are you guys drinking? The tribune wants to take the money away from the workers. Do you really think that will drop the price that the government pays for projects? How are you going to measure that? All this proposal would do is allow more worker abuse. In resending this law all you would do is give our corporate overlords more money. The good that comes from giving working class people money is they spend it. Most of it stays local. If you give corporations more money they send it overseas or worst they do nothing with it and save it. Why is that money not being spent? I think the more serious question is, why would the Tribune want to pay workers less? Why do they not want the local business and people to get less? Why would they have you fall for the foolish believe that resending this law will give you the tax payer any kind of break. Please!


Well said cowdog.


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