CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One of the most talked about bills this legislative session will next be taken up by the full House of Delegates after gaining approval of a House committee Wednesday.

It was standing-room-only in the House Government Organization Committee room Wednesday morning for the the bill (SB361) that would change the way the prevailing wage is calculated.

The measure, which has passed the Senate, would transfer the responsibility of determining the wage from the Division of Labor to WorkForce West Virginia and business experts from West Virginia University and Marshall.

The prevailing wage is used on publicly-financed projects. Supporters of the bill say the costs of those projects are often driven up by a high wage while opponents say changing the wage will cost jobs.

The committee passed the bill 17-8 but not before members of the Democratic minority spoke out against it.

“You know it! I know it! Everybody in this House knows that this is going to cut wages,” Delegate Mike Caputo (D-Marion) said looking to the union laborers who had packed the meeting room. “I’ve heard from as many companies as I have had workers saying this is going to put them out of business.”

Caputo and others said the changing the wage would open the projects to out-of-state companies who would possibly bring in undocumented workers.

“Cutting wages and allowing cheap contractors coming in from out of state, bringing in transient workers, working for minimum wage jobs is taking away the income and earning potential of all of these people out here,” Del. Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) said.

Supporters say a possible cheaper prevailing wage would actually mean saving money that could be used on additional public projects.

Opponents were unsuccessful in their attempts to amend the bill. They tried to remove or change the $500,000 threshold on the projects. The current bill says everything under that amount would not be required to follow the prevailing wage.

The committee did change the Senate bill placing a July 1 deadline on determining the prevailing wage under the new set-up or there would be no prevailing wage for that year.

West Virginia Contractors Association President Mike Clowser did tell the committee the new provision was concerning.

Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research Director Dr. Jennifer Shand told the committee the experts working on the wage would be able to get the information needed to help determine the wage.

“There would be a process of setting up the methodology or the mechanics of the calculation and then at that point for published data it’s a matter of acquiring the data, which usually is very easy to do so,” Shand said.

bubble graphic

38

bubble graphic

Comments

  • construction worker.

    I have worked in every part of the state from Wheeling, Martinsburgh ,Bluefield, Williamson,Huntington and several points in between. In order to make a living as a construction you have to travel. Even working for the prevailing wage with the cost of living and cost of travel its a struggle to keep your head above water. Construction workers have to work in all types of weather, 100 deg to near zero at times.Rain,snow or sleet. You probably have 10 perfect weather days out of 365 that is comfortable.I take a lot of pride in my work and make sure the people that work for me do the same. I have been building roads and bridges since 1991. I have worked both union and nonunion. I have been paying into my union pension for several years with hope of retiring with a decent pension in another 20. I guess if you repeal backers get your way , the sacrifices I have made being away from my family,wear and tear on my body was only to live for the moment. Believe me that what they say is true. The skilled worker won't be able to afford to travel. The quality of work and safety minded workers will be in jeopardy. It is also apparent that none of you repeal backers have ever lived a day as a construction worker. You People that work a 40 hr per week job in a controlled environment should try to make your living as a construction worker. You definately wouldn't be trying to cut our wages.

    • Poor Dum Construkshun Werker

      Amen brother.
      I couldn't have said it better. These idiots have no idea! Its so easy for them to be critical from a third person climate controlled environment. I am sure its safe to assume they have never had to drive 160 miles one way to work for 2 years, or miss out on their children growing up because they had to stay away from home. Bunch of ignorant jealous hypocritical bigots!

  • Mark

    The labor board asks all contractors to submit their wage rates, as to set the current prevailing wage rates. Those that do not dont because their trying to hide something . The current law protects all parties equally. I personally have benefited from prevailing wage law working both Union and non Union.
    The question is how will they now determine this. You can't factor in residential rates with that of commercial or heavy highway work. It is a completely different type of construction. What the current law allowed was for our skilled tradesman to be paid the value of the wealth that's being created.
    The push by the Reich wing is to turn our tradesman into nothing more than Walmart greeters. I have worked in 4 states that have no prevailing wage provisions and that are right to work for less. You end up subsidizing the construction industry with food stamps and other govt freebies, plus it hurts industry of quality drug free workers who are productive. I have witnessed these negatives first hand.
    Currently we build our schools cheaper here then they do in Virginia and North Carolina . What they are gonna do is create a shadow economy point blank .
    There are people on this thread that are making up phony wage rates . You can go to the secretary of states website and get the correct wage rates.
    The bigger question is do we want our wealth and self interests to stay here or leave the state

  • Cathy

    First our Miners!! Now our Construction workers!!

  • WVU1

    Who do they think they are fooling? Yes, it will cut wages...the artificially high ones attached these projects. They should remove the $500,000 limit too.

  • Grow a pair

    All these people bashing construction workers.. Stop by the next construction job you see and tell the workers how great this bill is.. Just make sure your phone adjusted to video lol.

  • Marion

    For all of you that are for the prevailing wage to go away SHAME ON YOU! You just put a dagger in the backs of all hard working MOUNTAINEERS! Period !!!!

  • Low Rider

    It's about time. Congrats to the Republican majority for passing this bill. I have no problem with prevailing wages on large government contracts, but forcing munincipalities and others to pay a prevailing wage on under $500k projects made no sense.

    I know of a small project (replacing windows) in a town hall where the town had to pay $60 per hour for the work to be done. How is that helping the taxpayers of this small city?

    How many Pro prevailing wage advocates would pay these wages for a job done in their own home? I think I know the answer to that.

    • James

      Low rider can you tell me which trade makes 60 dollars an hour I don't think you know what you are talking about they might have been charged $60.00 an hour but that doesn't mean the company doesn't raise the price to that but what's stops the next company from charging 100 dollars an hour. There is no limit to what a company will charge

    • Raven0303

      Using your money in a financially sensible way is not very popular. Prevailing wage is like paying $100 for something worth $30 it just does not make sense. Im all for getting our financial house in order an I applaud the leadership in the state for moving in that direction

      • Shocked

        and I applaud you for being a medical miracle because apparently you are obviously living without a brain! Until you are paying these wages of these unions workers you can shut it!

        • Well...

          If he/she is a taxpayer in the state of WV then they are paying those wages.

          • Eye roller

            well... Apparently you aren't the brightest crayon in the box! He/she is not paying a penny of any construction union worker. But Damn sure he/she will be paying for their welfare benefits when they cut wages. And I'd bet he/she is gonna cry about that too!

  • Stewart White

    You could be drinking the kool aid.

  • Moco man

    ..........and quit drinking the kool aid........

  • Moco man

    Sorry Stewart...........this has nothing to do with union busting. It is called being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.........and I am all for it. The same companies will bid on the same jobs...........they will just have to account for less labor costs which in turn makes taxpayers happy happy happy........

    • construction worker

      This is to the majority of the repeal backers who probably couldn't stick a simple nut on a bolt. I,m sure you wouldn't be on a roof in 95 deg weather with the sun beating down on you installing tar and chip. No matter what the pay. Most of these jobs are under the 500,000 dollar price tag. I also bet you wouldn't be chasing a paving crew around all summer in WV. Long hours,high temps along with 300 degree asphalt. A lot of these jobs are under that price tag also. Most of the construction workers in WV have to travel all over the state losing valued time with there families to make a living. I'm sure if you cut the wages to where you pencil pushers would like it . A skilled worker wouldn't be able to afford to travel.Also Tax payers. I believe the wage tax is taken by percentage. Lower wages less taxes. But, I guess there is welfare, They seem to be thriving.

    • WVU1

      Exactly right. Same contractors. Same workers. Same completed job. But a more realistic expense for the taxpayers and more projects now get completed.

      Funny part of this whole debate is that the commercial contractors will say the exact same thing behind closed doors.

  • Concerned Citizen

    All this discussion of repealing prevaling wage "because employees are being paid too much" and the "State is losing money". What is not taken into consideration is the fact that MOST of these contracted workers are working away from home 4-5 days per week - who pays for that you ask? Not the company, but the employee! Have you added up the cost of staying in a motel 4 nights per week, or the gas to get back and forth the job (because they do not have company vehicles), add in food, etc. and you are looking at $400 or more a week JUST TO WORK! Maybe someone should think of that!

    • construction worker

      I agree. That goes along with my comment. Thank you.

  • Stewart White

    The $500,000 cap on any project over that amount will result in the overall project being bid
    in separated constructions. Republicans want to move our state toward big business control of our work force. This is a union-busting tactic brought about by our voters who created this dilemma.

  • Right being Righted

    Prevailing wage has created over paid employees for certian work skills.
    Example: low voltage cabling...what industry pays for low voltage cabling is between $15 - $20 per hour. Under WV prevailing wage in some counties pay over $60.00 + $15 per hour benifets making the employee pay $75.00 per hour when th rate should be $15-$20 PER HOUR. This is costing tax payers too much to support this union lead wage. If we are concerned of out of state employees....We sould provide instate discounts for bids that utlize instate companies utlizing insttae employees either way union have pushed this too far in the wrong direction.......

    • WV Resident

      As someone very familiar with the current PW rates for construction in WV I know for a fact that you are making that $60 rate up. There isn't a current rate that is even close to that amount. Even Operating Engineers who operate large construction cranes and other dangerous equipment don't make $60 an hour. Nice try though. If you want to see the actual rates anyone can go to the Secretary of State's office website. Its no secret. And they do reflect the market but not the underground, paying under the table tax dodging market. That is why so many contractors won't turn in the DOL surveys because they cheat on everything and 1099 and pay employees in cash. No vacation, no insurance. The ones that play by the rules are the ones that will be bankrupted by this bill. There are hundreds of companies that have contacted the legislature and told them that they will either have to lay off employees or shut their doors if this passes. And the party of "job creation" could care less. They have their eyes on the prize and that is the systematic destruction of union representation so that eventually everyone will be working for $10 an hour.

    • WVU1

      The same employees will be doing these jobs at a correct pay rate. That out-of-state crap is union babble.

      Those guys need to be thankful for the freebies they have gotten and progress into today's economic world.

  • Soon to be poor

    Let's see how this works.... You cut wages to save the State money? Yet no money is being taken from the State. Correction, these senators 6 figure incomes are paid by us the members of the State. So, In all actuality the State will suffer because of this but I can promise you that these Senaors will not take a pay it! Less pay = less taxes taken out for State and Federal. Now that we make less money, some families will need State assistant to help with housing, utilities and food. So, I'm quite confused as to the benefit of repealing the prevailing wage is.

    • Well...

      "Correction, these senators 6 figure incomes are paid by us the members of the State."

      Members of the WV Legislature don't get paid 6 figure salaries for being a legislator.

      "Less pay = less taxes taken out for State and Federal."

      Well shoot lets just raise their pay to $1 million per construction worker. Then we will have all kinds of taxes from that money right? (sarcasm)

      • Forgot to mention

        the 6 figure income was including the embezzled money. These senator (R) scum need to remove their business suits and tampons and join the workforce of REAL men! I promise you they would not work for a lower wage!

        • WVU1

          That's cute. That realistic perspective is why unions can't get anyone to pay attention to them.

        • Well...

          Do you have any proof of that or is that just something your union thug leader told you??

          • Soon to be poor

            Well.....enjoy paying the welfare benefits they will be recieving. Food always taste so much butter when it's being bought by someone else! Oh, and they'll be sure to keep their house a little warmer since you'll be paying some of that bill too

          • Well...

            grow up!, have you not been paying attention? Of course I am paying these "prevailing" wages. I am a taxpayer of the State of WV. The government pays for public projects with tax dollars. Not with good wishes and fairy dust. Nice try though.

            I don't want a family to have less income. However, I don't think its fair that myself, and the rest of the WV taxpayers, subsidize the construction workers high wages. We shouldn't be protecting one class of people all because their union can lobby the government and submit completed surveys.

          • grow up!

            Union thug? Seriously?! I can tell you are one of those pansy Republicans! It's pitiful when people like you are all for a family to have less of an income (which doesn't affect you in any way shape or form because you aren't paying their wages) but you will damn sure be paying for their welfare benefits when they are forced to need assistance from the state. I bet you'll complain about that too won't you?

      • or

        Now that we are going to save tax dollars by cutting wages we can divert these savings into all of these private charter schools.


        Well shoot... I guess what Mr. Cole really meant to say is we can build five "private charter" schools for the price of three.

  • Aaron

    Caputo is fear mongering and bordering on telling lives. This bill will not put companies out of business as all they will do is change their input on the labor line of their bids.

    As for bringing in undocumented workers, that's not going to happen either as the requirement for a certified payroll remains in all project bids.

    This keeps the playing field level for the companies approved by the state to bid in on the jobs they do. Given the change in control in Charleston, this is the best outcome labor was going to do get.

    • wow

      Good myth busting Aaron. if the wages are known how by all bidding on the job and the companies bidding have to turn in a certified payroll, how does that give anyone an advantage.