Contact Sean O’Leary at 304-720-8682 or firstname.lastname@example.org
West Virginia lawmakers considering a repeal of the state’s long-standing prevailing wage are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and it could hurt working families and our local economy. This according to a report out today “West Virginia’s Prevailing Wage: Good for Business, Good for Workers,” by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. Read PDF of news release. Read report.
West Virginia’s prevailing wage has been in place since the 1930’s and provides a minimum wage and benefit level for construction workers working on public projects. Lawmakers see elimination of this standard as a way to save the state money, allowing contractors to cut wages in order to lower their bids on state construction projects. While this might sound like a good plan on the surface, in reality, West Virginia’s construction costs are already lower than its neighboring states including Virginia, which does not even have a prevailing wage law.
“The evidence clearly shows that West Virginia’s prevailing wage law is not only a good deal for the state’s construction workers, but for the taxpayers as well,” stated Sean O’Leary, fiscal policy analyst at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and author of the report. “When it comes to public construction, you get what you pay for. Research consistently shows any hypothetical cost savings from paying lower wages is lost to lower productivity.”
Thirty-two states, including West Virginia, set a prevailing wage for state-funded construction projects. These wages ensure that jobs are given to qualified workers from the community. These good-paying local jobs increase worker productivity while boosting the area’s economy.
Repealing the state’s prevailing wage will harm an economy that is still recovering from the Great Recession. Forcing skilled, trained laborers to work for close to minimum wage will push even more West Virginia working families to the poverty line, making them rely on programs like food stamps just to get by.
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