The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 20, 2016

Prevailing wage repeal drive still seems stalled

By The Building Tradesman

The petition drive to repeal Michigan's Prevailing Wage Act of 1965 apparently continues to be staying in neutral.

For the last six weeks, phone calls to the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Counci's "Decline to Sign" hotline have only trickled in - the toll-free line - (855) 517-9437 - is available for people to call to report the location of petitioners circulating the petition that would repeal the prevailing wage law. The calls that have come in have been false alarms (there are statewide petitions currently being circulated that address mandatory sick time and fracking, perhaps among others). And, there have been zero sightings of anti-prevailing wage petitioners in recent weeks reported by the people looking out for the clipboard-holders.

"Still quiet, and it has been since about the beginning of April," said Patrick Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Council. "We're still not sure why they have paused or canceled the petition drive, but the weather is warmer, people are out and about, and it's prime time to get signatures. And we're not seeing them."

The signature gathering started in March, in an effort sponsored by "Protect Michigan Taxpayers," a front group for the Associated Builders and Contractors. There is a 180-day window to collect more than 252,000 signatures. Once the signatures are obtained and approved by the state, the prevailing wage repeal question is presented to the state Legislature for approval. If the state Legislature doesn't approve the question, the matter is placed before a vote of the people in the next statewide election.

Devlin speculated that the big-money backers of the prevailing wage repeal effort "declined to sign" a check paying for this year's petition effort, because a failed effort last year with thousands of duplicate signatures cost the ABC and their backers some $1.8 million. Or, perhaps the petition effort started and stopped because they weren't getting enough signatures.

Whatever the motivation for stopping or suspending the petition drive, there would be a sense of urgency for Protect Michigan Taxpayers to get the necessary signatures this year, in time for a Republican-dominated Legislature that generally supports prevailing wage repeal to vote on the matter.

Two requests for action:

*If a candidate for office knocks on your door during this election year, ask if they support Michigan's prevailing wage law. If they don't know what it is, educate them: tell them it's a law that supports good wages in your community. If they support it, tell them that's a great reason for you to support them. If they don't support prevailing wage, tell them they don't have your vote.

*If you are approached by a petitioner, read what you're being asked to sign. The top line on the petition will say the intent is to repeal the Prevailing Wage Act of 1965. Please "decline to sign," and report the signature taker to the hotline, (855) 517-9437.