Look out! Another labor-related issue that’s not on Gov. Rick Snyder’s agenda, “too divisive”.

Hmmm…where have I heard THAT before…?

For the two years leading up to the cataclysmic events in December of last year that lead to Michigan becoming the country’s 24th Right to Work for Less state, Governor Rick Snyder told anyone who asked that Right to Work wasn’t “on his agenda” and that it was “too divisive”. That lasted right up until Dick DeVos and other rich Michigan businessmen reportedly delivered the ultimatum that Republicans do as they were told or face primary challenges funded by corporate interests.

Well, the “too divisive” label has now been used by Governor Snyder on another labor related issue: prevailing wage. Snyder says this, too, is “too divisive”:

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he’s not interested in an effort to repeal a state law that sets better wages for construction workers on state projects.

The prevailing wage law requires non-union contractors bidding for public works projects to pay union-scale wages and benefits.

The Republican governor told reporters trying to repeal prevailing wages is a “very divisive” issue. He says he’s instead focusing on getting support for his new state budget and ensuring changes affecting the state’s largest health insurer get to his desk.

Here’s a bit more on what Michigan’s “prevailing wage” law is all about:

Michigan’s Prevailing Wage law covers construction workers employed on state financed or sponsored construction projects. Under this act the Wage and Hour Division establishes wage and fringe benefit rates to be paid construction workers on state projects.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs determines prevailing rates pursuant to the Prevailing Wage Law, Act 166, P.A. of 1965. The purpose of establishing prevailing rates is to provide rates of pay for workers on construction projects for which the state or a school district is the contracting agent and which is financed or financially supported by the state.

By law, prevailing rates are compiled from the rates contained in collectively bargained agreements which cover the locations of the state projects. The prevailing rates provide an hourly rate which includes wage and fringe benefit totals for designated construction mechanic classifications. The overtime rates also include wage and fringe benefit totals. {…}

The department establishes the prevailing rate for each classification of construction mechanics requested by a contracting agent prior to contracts being let out for bid on a state project.

The primary reason for our prevailing wage law is to protect workers from contractors that use substandard labor that pays a fraction of what a trained professional should receive:

[Michigan's Prevailing Wage Act ensures] that predatory contractors will not have an incentive to underbid established businesses by using unskilled or low-skilled workers imported from other parts of the country who are willing to work for less than the local labor market is paying.

Since that puts a pinch on the bottom lines of men like Dick DeVos, you can be sure that when this bill comes up for a vote, a lot of Republicans will suddenly see it as the savior of our economy and when it hits Governor Snyder’s desk, he will sign it. Because that’s how Republicans roll when the Money Men come to town.

[CC Snyder photo credit: Michigan Municipal League | Flickr]

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