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Prevailing wage repeal gets thumbs up from Schuette, Calley

Date Posted: October 13 2017

The two leading Republican candidates for Michigan governor in 2018 both announced last month that they support repealing the Michigan Prevailing Wage Act.

Speaking to a reporter on Sept. 23 at the Michigan Republican Party leadership conference, Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said he supports repeal, putting him in conflict with his boss, Gov. Rick Snyder, whose veto threat is the only thing standing in the way of prevailing wage repeal by the Republican-led Michigan Legislature.

"We don't need the government telling business what wages ought to be," Calley said, as reported by the news service MIRS. "There is supply and demand. It works. The best way to increase wages is to have a strong economy and a high demand for people. It's the most sustainable and better long term. So, I'm with the Speaker, repeal it."

When asked, Schuette used the term "change," but later clarified that to him, change means "repeal" of the state's prevailing wage law. "We passed this right-to-work legislation years ago and I was the right-to-work attorney general and I am the prevailing wage attorney general, as well, because we need to change it in Michigan," Schuette told MIRS. "Prevailing wage increases the cost of taxpayer-funded public projects . . . so one of the tools we need to sharpen in a better fashion in our economic toolbox for jobs and economic growth is . . . changing the prevailing wage statute. So I am for changing and altering the prevailing wage statute in Michigan."

The leading Democratic candidate for governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has expressed her support for the state's prevailing wage law.

The Michigan Prevailing Wage Act of 1965 is the state's most important law governing the wage of the state's construction workforce, union and nonunion. The law declares that wages that "prevail" in the location where a state taxpayer-funded construction projects takes place be paid to the workforce.  

The law thus assures that out-of-area contractors aren't able to under-bid local contractors by under-paying their workers.

The Michigan prevailing wage law is currently threatened with repeal by a statewide petition drive that has gone on this summer and into the fall. As we have urged, please read any petition before signing it - it has been widely reported that petition gatherers have been misrepresenting the contents of their petitions, saying just about anything to get signatures.