For years, prevailing wage laws protected workers in West Virginia. Then, state legislators pushed through a repeal, arguing it would reduce the cost of public projects, such as schools. Turns out the repeal hasn’t saved money and has hurt West Virginia families.
Prevailing wage laws prevented contractors from “low balling” their employees’ wages in order to put in competitive bids on government projects. But Delegate Eric Householder (R-Berkeley) urged legislators to overturn Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of this practice in 2016.
“This bill will save the taxpayers money by allowing competition to exist with a market wage, not a mandated wage,” Householder said,
Tell that to the parents of students at Mountain Valley Elementary School in southern West Virginia’s Mercer County. They were forced to wait more than a month beyond the start of the school year for their facility’s grand opening.
Among the findings of a May 2019 study of the effects of repealing West Virginia’s prevailing wage law are that hourly wages in school construction fell, costs for school construction went up slightly, and workplace injuries increased.
Paying hard-working construction workers less doesn’t save money when it means hiring less qualified people. But it does put more money in the pockets of their bosses.
These are the same bosses that donate money to legislators willing to do their bidding.
IMAGE: John Salvino, unsplash.com