Prevailing wage repeal: Lawmakers, workers react

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Immediately after the prevailing wage vote on Wednesday, reactions from lawmakers and union workers began piling in. Each with their own opinion about how they believe the law will affect Michigan.

“We need to protect workers,” State Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said. “That is what prevailing wage mandate does.”

Republicans who support this move say, it will make construction projects in the mitten state less expensive for taxpayers.

“And the result will be more freedom, more competition, hundreds of millions of savings to taxpayers, spent on children in the classroom, instead of being spent on putting up the classroom around them,” State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, said.  

But other lawmakers, including Michigan Senator Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, said repealing prevailing wage will not protect the taxpayers. In fact, he said it does the opposite.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” he said. “I think what we’re trying to do is subvert the will of the people, try and help a couple wealthy contractors bilk wages through moving forward, it does nothing to actually improve quality of Michigan. All it does is an attack on wages one more time from this body.”

Many construction workers agree with this sentiment, they crowded the Capitol before the vote.

“For Michigan workers and our families, prevailing wage is something that we can depend on,” it means that we will be paid fairly for an honest day’s work.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters is also weighing in. He believes this law will not only hurt union workers in our state, but also threaten public safety.

In a statement released Wednesday, he said the following:

“Repealing a law that ensures high quality work earns better wages will only give an advantage to untrained and out-of-state workers who are less likely to get construction jobs done safely, on time or on budget. At a time when we are facing a skilled trades shortage, cutting pay for these workers will only make this crisis worse.”  

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