Ballot drive launched to keep prevailing wage law intact - WNEM TV 5

Ballot drive launched to keep prevailing wage law intact

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Construction trade groups are launching a ballot drive to keep intact Michigan's law that requires better wages and benefits for workers on state-financed building projects.

The Republican-led Legislature could vote early next year to repeal the law, despite opposition from GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, who supports it as a way to promote in-demand jobs in the trades. A group has turned in signatures for veto-proof initiated legislation.

That prompted supporters of the law to announce their own initiative Tuesday. If they collect enough signatures, voters ultimately would decide the fate of the wage law next November.

Labor leaders say they are lobbying Republican legislators to not vote on the first initiative and instead let voters decide. But they want a backup plan in case the Legislature passes it.

"This isn't anything new," said Mike Crawford, with the National Electrical Contractors Association. "You want to know that those workers as they do their very difficult job are being paid the appropriate scale that reflects local wages, local bargaining conditions."

A group called Protecting Michigan Taxpayers is trying to get the prevailing wage law repealed. They want state lawmakers to pass a legislation that would take the law off the books.

It's a move Crawford said hurts construction workers and the communities they serve.

The president of the group, Jeff Wiggins, said the petition drive and efforts to preserve the prevailing wage laws are a full-scale assault on Michigan taxpayers.

He encourages voters not to sign the petition.

Wiggins said it would keep in place a government-mandated special interest carve out for a select few. He insists taxpayers deserve better.

Crawford said taxpayers will continue to receive top-notch construction projects from workers that are paid a fair wage.

"The people that procure publicly funded construction know that there is going to be a quality level established of the workers," Crawford said.

Crawford said a repeal of the prevailing wage law would be devastating to the people of Michigan and he is vowing to do everything he can to stop it.

"We have to win this thing," Crawford said.

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