Lawmakers Propose Bills to Amend Prevailing Wage; Local Compani - KOAM TV 7

Lawmakers Propose Bills to Amend Prevailing Wage; Local Companies React


Missouri is now a right to work state. So workers cannot be forced to join a union. But union level wages are still required at many construction sites because of prevailing wage laws. Now those are the subject of bills to repeal or amend the prevailing wage.

R.E. Smith is the main contractor for building the new Joplin public library, a prevailing wage project. The company president said prevailing wage has pros and cons. The pro is in project bidding.
Dick Smith said, "I know everybody has to pay the same wage
so my competition doesn’t come in and hire some low wage people. Usually a low wage person is not trained too well."

The con is in the cost. Usually twenty-five percent higher for prevailing wage. And big hassles when it comes to tracking those wages.

Smith added, "If you do certain types of work, you have to be paid certain types of wages. So one person on a prevailing  wage job may  be paid four or five different wages during one time period."

Payroll that Pam Wolsey  has to  handle at Bill’s Electric Incorporated or BEI. Wolsey explained, "They're making this rate of pay on this job and then that same person goes to another job that’s not prevailing wage  and makes their regular rate of pay for doing the same work."

BEI is also on the library job. BEI president Brandon Wilson said, "The way the laws setup right now,  the union is dictating the work force we have on these prevailing wage jobs." Wilson believes ultimately workers should be paid based on their skill set. He added that eliminating prevailing wage would help taxpayers. He said, “I think the taxpayer could get  a lot more bang for their buck  on a project that’s not prevailing wage."

Webb City school superintendent Anthony Rosetti agreed. He said, “If you were not having to count in prevailing wage rate, you could not necessarily  have  to have as high a levy  for say a bond,  if you were going for that to build on to your school. Definitely some savings you would be able to have."

Prevailing wages on the library job range from thirty-four up to fifty-nine dollars an hour according to Smith who calls those extremely high for Jasper county. And he said way high for even smaller counties.
 "Prevailing wage is not fifty-nine dollars an hour. If we went to McDonald county to build a new school down there and those patrons are having to pay such high Kansas City rates."

Bills to repeal prevailing wage call for exempting municipalities, low income housing projects or third and fourth class counties.
Rosetti says labor can be two-thirds of a roofing project costs but he doesn't think school  districts in small counties alone should get a break.
He and Wilson hope changes will be across the board. 


During his state of the state address, Governor Eric Greitens called on lawmakers to repeal the state's law on prevailing wages.

Labor unions are expected to fight proposed legislation.

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