New prevailing wage to miss July 1 deadline

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — No decision has been made by Gov. Tomblin’s administration on what to do if there’s no new prevailing wage in West Virginia by July 1.

WorkForce West Virginia is working to develop the wage but just recently sent out surveys to 5,250 contractors. It’s going to take a while to gather feedback according to WorkForce’s research director Jeff Green.

“With the survey going out, we’re not going to be able to have that data by July 1,” Green said on MetroNews “Talkline” Friday morning. “Right now, there’s discussion on what to do at the July 1 deadline. I don’t think there’s been a final decision just yet.”

The prevailing wage is what is paid to workers on construction projects financed by state money. The state legislature changed the prevailing wage law earlier this year, saying past wages were too high.

A new law shifts the responsibility of calculating the wage from the state Division of Labor to WorkForce West Virginia. The agency is to work with economic experts from WVU and Marshall. Republican lawmakers became upset earlier this month criticizing WorkForce West Virginia’s approach to coming up with the new wage, including the survey method. Despite the criticism, WorkForce decided to send out the surveys. Green is hoping for a 50-percent response rate.

“We’ll be looking at the fair representation and getting a good balance and strong response rate through the survey and also making the point the (new) statute requires two minimal elements (to be used to calculate the rate),” Green said.

The two elements WorkForce is using include information from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the survey.

Green expressed confidence Friday in the process and the likelihood the information returned through the survey would represent what’s close to market scale on what is paid to workers.

“Yes, I certainly do,” Green said.

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