The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, April 17, 2015

Failure of ballot issue could strengthen effort to repeal prevailing wage

By Patrick Devlin, Secretary-Treasurer

If Proposal 1, fails at the ballot box on May 5, what then?

Gov. Snyder, an active proponent of the ballot issue, has said "there is no Plan B" if voters say no.

Actually, there is a Plan B, and it means keeping the status quo for road funding, which is a really bad plan. And when the state Legislature eventually realizes they have to do something to fix the roads, what we'll call "Plan C" could be introduced - and it would prove to be a disaster for the state's construction industry.

Plan C could involve creating an easier path to crushing construction industry wage standards assured by the Michigan Prevailing Wage Act.

As you have read in The Building Tradesman, Republican leaders in our state Legislature have gone to great pains to announce that repealing prevailing wage is their top legislative priority this year. About the same time, Gov. Snyder announced that he does not support prevailing wage repeal, indicating that he appreciates the industry wage stability brought about by the law.  Soon after they introduced repeal bills in January, the Legislature announced that they would wait until after Proposal 1 is voted on May 5 to pursue their agenda.

Why wait? Sounds like a potential horse trade to us. Snyder has made fixing the roads a top priority since he came into office. The ultra-conservatives who have taken over the state Legislature know this, and if Prop 1 loses, wouldn't they be pointing to prevailing wage repeal as a bargaining chip with Snyder, as in, he needs to support prevailing wage repeal in order to earn their support for a new legislative solution to the road funding mess?

It's easy to get angry about how Proposal 1 got on the ballot and how complex it is - but building trades workers need to be aware that our state's prevailing wage law is potentially on the line if the May 5 ballot proposal is defeated. It may all come down to supporting the devil we know, Proposal 1 - vs. the devil we don't know.