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Tue February 22, 2011
Union members protest changes to Prevailing Wage law
Hundreds of outraged union members filled a State House committee room and the surrounding hallways to protest a proposal to eliminate Michigan’s Prevailing Wage law. Many union members people began chanting and banging on the walls of the committee room.
Unions say the law makes sure workers are paid fairly and that union members get work.
Some Republicans want to get rid of the Prevailing Wage law, saying developers and contractors could save money on construction costs by making wages more competitive.
Jeff Mowry, a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 333, says the proposal to get rid of the wage law is not a direct attack on the collective bargaining rights of unions, but it still tries to hurt unions.
"You know, that’s the scary part – everything gets very complicated and very confused but it sure seems like it’s all tied together. And it seems like this is just one piece of a great big puzzle that’s looking to take away our collective bargaining rights, yeah."
Some Republican lawmakers say eliminating the prevailing wage law would save about 10% on construction costs and could create more jobs in the state.
Chris Fischer with the Association of Builders and Contractors gave a presentation to lawmakers on how the state could save money by eliminating the wage law.
Fischer says the chanting was distracting, but he was not deterred.
"It is difficult to make a factual presentation when there’s a lot of white noise in the background. It is disconcerting, but the bottom line is prevailing wage does come at the expense of two things Michigan does not have right now – and that’s jobs and taxpayer dollars."
Union members were told they will be able to testify on the wage law when legislation is before the committee for a vote.