The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, December 08, 2017

Prevailing wage repeal effort: Now comes the validation: state, MBCTC sample petition sheets for errors

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor



LANSING - The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has set a tentative meeting date of Jan. 10 to consider the validity of some 380,000 petition signatures submitted by Protect Michigan Taxpayers in their effort to overturn the state's prevailing wage law.

PMT, the front group for the Associated Builders and Contractors - Michigan, handed over the signature sheets to the state on Nov. 3, following a months-long petition drive this year. They submitted well over the 252,523 valid signatures that are necessary to place the prevailing wage repeal question before the Michigan Legislature. 

If the Legislature votes to repeal the Michigan Prevailing Wage Act of 1965 in a vote that would likely take place early next year, then the matter is settled, and the law goes away. If there are not enough votes for repeal, the question goes on a statewide ballot in November 2018.

First the petitions need to be examined for errors, to make sure there are no duplicate signatures or contain names of unregistered voters, and that's an ongoing process at the state Board of Elections. They examine a sampling of signatures, and copies of the petition sheets are also being reviewed by representatives of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, who will point out any discrepancies in the names that could bring the total number of legitimate names under the 252,523 mark. 

"It's impossible to examine every one of those 380,000 names, but we do pull out a representative sample for examination," said Patrick Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council. "Obviously we're hoping that we get a result like last time, when the state threw out the petitions because of all the invalid signatures."

In 2015, efforts of the council's legal team found an astounding 40 percent void rate in the number of signatures that were gathered in that year's effort to repeal prevailing wage due to duplicate, fake or otherwise invalid names, which successfully killed the effort.

In this year's effort, Protect Michigan Taxpayers/ABC Michigan hired a more reputable Michigan-based company to collect the signatures, and building trades lawyer John Pirrich has said he expects that the signature gatherers will do a much better job. The goal of 252,523 signatures is set by state law and is based on a percentage of voters in the most recent statewide election. 

"Basically the Bureau of Elections puts together a report of their findings and presents that report to us," said Jeannette Bradshaw, an IBEW Local 58 member who holds one of the four seats on the Board of State Canvassers. "Then we either certify that there are a sufficient number of signatures, or we don't certify."

While the validation effort goes on, you can help by contacting your state representative and senator, urging them to keep the Michigan Prevailing Wage Act in place. To find your lawmaker, go to www.michiganbuildingtrades.org and click on the “Our Issues” tab for an easy way to make your feelings known to your state senator or House member.