By SHERI GASSAWAY
Jefferson City – A group of Missouri construction industry leaders representing 14 trade associations and 100,000 workers recently voiced unanimous opposition to a proposed bill that would repeal the state’s prevailing wages law.
The coalition held a news conference on the subject at the Missouri Capitol immediately following an April 5 Senate committee hearing on House Bill 104, which would repeal the law. It’s one of more than 10 measures being considered in the state legislature that would adversely impact prevailing wages in Missouri.
Prevailing wage establishes a base pay rate by counties that all contractors on public works jobs must pay their workers. It ensures fair competition by requiring contractors to bid on their skill, expertise and productivity of their workers rather than who pays the lowest wages.
The contractors warned that a repeal of prevailing wage would result in reduced wages for Missouri construction workers and an erosion in the local contractor base by allowing out-of-state contractors who pay significantly less to their workers to outbid local companies on publicly funded projects.
SETS STANDARD FOR SAFEY AND QUALITY
Emily Martin, president of the St. Louis chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, noted that prevailing wage was an initiative originally established by Republicans to assure that public tax dollars for construction generate opportunities for local contractors and jobs for local workforces.
“State and public entities buy construction projects based on one thing – price,” said Martin, who is also president of Fenton-based Aschinger Electric. “Having prevailing wage sets the community standard for wages for that work and helps assure that the community’s standards for safety and quality construction are maintained.”
ENSURES A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
Mike Kappel, president of the SITE Improvement Association’s Board of Directors and general manager at Byrne and Jones Construction in Bridgeton, said prevailing wage ensures a level playing field for local contractors.
“Prevailing wage helps us as a company remain competitive with out-of-state contractors and pay middle class wages to our employees,” Kappel said. “It also keeps those tax dollars in Missouri, which helps the state’s economy.”
The news conference was live-streamed on the Protect MO Wages Facebook page. The group is urging you to take action to protect prevailing wage in Missouri by calling your legislators or by sending them an email. Visit protectmowages.org for more information.