UPDATE (3:50 p.m.) – The fate of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law has been a hot topic over the past year.
Due to the efforts of a petition drive, lawmakers could take a vote to repeal the law sometime this year.
But Michigan skilled trades workers aren’t going down without a fight.
Hundreds of workers from all corners of Michigan came to the State Capitol Wednesday to speak up for their jobs and their ability to be paid fairly for them.
One worker in the crowd, Michael Kozlowski, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, traveled all the way from Detroit to talk to his lawmakers about preserving the Prevailing Wage Law.
“They’re fair paying jobs, and they promote training, they promote education, they encourage people to invest in their future through pensions, health care, etc,” Kozlowski said. “Overall, it’s good for Michigan families, it allows us to have a middle class.”
The Prevailing Wage Act protects the wages of skilled trades workers by requiring better wages and benefits for workers on state-financed building projects.
Those who support the law say you can’t repeal it without also hurting those workers.
Here’s what two members of Local 85 in Saginaw had to say to 6 News Wednesday at the rally:
“If you’re a company that’s wanting to come and lobby against prevailing wage, you don’t want that, you want to make sure that you don’t have to pay as much as everybody else,” Chad Anders said.
“Every worker works for less, they’ll be no standard, or a minimum wage would be the standard,” Justin Pomerville said.
But not everyone wants this law to stick around. 6 News spoke with Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who said the Prevailing Wage Act should probably be repealed because it could help create more jobs.
However, Sen. Jones also said the current high wages of skilled workers wouldn’t go away if the law was repealed.
“I think there would be high wages except for somebody carrying bricks, a common laborer obviously you could get somebody at much less wages,” Sen. Jones said. “But when you’re talking a pipe-fitter…talking an electrician…talking a plumber…they’re going to get top dollar.”
But when it comes to the choice between voting to repeal the Prevailing Wage Act, or letting the public decide, people at Wednesday’s rally agree it should be up to the people.
“The people of Michigan have a right to make a choice on this,” said Todd Tennis, who was at the rally representing the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Lansing. “This legislature should send this issue to the ballot. If it comes before them, they need to let the people decide.”
LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Hundreds of skilled trade workers and supporters of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Act have gathered on the front steps of the State Capitol.
They are at the Capitol to lobby state lawmakers with the message “Let the people decide” about the future of the existing Prevailing Wage Act.
Construction trade unions are launching a ballot drive to keep intact Michigan’s law that requires better wages and benefits for workers on state-financed building projects.
The Republican-led Legislature could vote this year to repeal the law, despite opposition from Gov. Rick Snyder, who supports it as a way to promote in-demand jobs in the trades.
If there are a majority of “yes” votes in the House and Senate, the prevailing wage law would be repealed.
If the majority of votes is “no”, then the prevailing wage repeal question would be put to Michigan voters to decide next November.
Trade groups say there is polling information that indicates the prevailing wage law is supported by the public.
6 News has a crew at the rally and will be updating this story online and on 6 News tonight.