The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 12, 2015

Survey shows strong support for state’s prevailing wage law

By The Building Tradesman

A telephone poll of 400 likely voters, conducted May 19 and 20 by EPIC MRA for Michigan Prevails, a coalition of business and labor organizations, shows fewer than a third of state voters support ending prevailing wage laws. 

“This survey shows what we are feeling on the ground –Michigan agrees with Gov. Rick Snyder and the vast majority of construction organizations who are opposed to ending prevailing wage in Michigan. The law helps ensure we have qualified workers available to fill skilled trades position, and supports the education of skilled trades  necessary to  keep Michigan men and women working efficiently and safely,” said Bart Carrigan, president of Associated General Contractors, whose 400 members include major construction companies such as Walbridge and Barton Malow. 

The poll asked: "Now I would like to ask you about an important issue that is currently in the news, prevailing wage… Under current Michigan law, workers on government construction projects, such as government office buildings, and public school buildings – whether they are members of a union or not – must be paid the union wage rate within the geographical area of the project. Legislation is under consideration in the Michigan Legislature which would repeal Michigan’s law, known as the prevailing wage law. Based on what you know or have heard or read about this issue, do you think the state prevailing wage law should be kept as it is, or, do you think the prevailing wage law should be repealed and eliminated?    

49% - Prevailing wage law should be kept as it is 
29% - Prevailing wage law should be repealed and eliminated 
22% - Undecided/Refused

Then, the survey taker read two statements to the respondents, one from supporters and one from opponents of the prevailing wage law.

*"Opponents of the prevailing wage law say it should be repealed because doing so would dramatically decrease the cost of construction on state or local government funded projects, which could either allow for lower taxes, or it could leave state government, local governments and public school districts with more money for other services."                

*"Supporters of the law say it should be kept because there is no evidence that there is any savings by repealing the law, and paying union scale wages reduces workforce turnover and attracts better trained and more highly skilled construction workers who are able to complete the job safely, on time and within budget for the project."   

"After hearing these two statements, let me ask you again, do you think the prevailing wage law should be kept as it is, or do you think it should be repealed and eliminated?   

53% - Prevailing wage law should be kept as is 
33% - Prevailing wage law should be repealed and eliminated 
14% - Undecided/Refused                

"I think the results of the survey show that Michigan voters have a much better grasp about the benefits of prevailing wage than most of our Republican lawmakers who are pushing this repeal," said Patrick Devlin, secretary treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council. "Using the results of this poll is just the first step in getting out the word about how prevailing wage is good for our state, and fighting the petition drive to repeal."