CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The organization which represents skilled tradesmen in West Virginia believes a new study out of the University of Missouri-Kansas City is clear evidence the removal of the prevailing wage requirement in West Virginia was a mistake.
The Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation released the findings from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute which examined West Virginia’s state funded construction costs three years after the legislature eliminated a requirement for payment of a prevailing wage on state funded construction jobs.
“The report finds there has been no savings,” said ACT Foundation Executive Director Steve White on MetroNews Talkline. “This experiment to bring savings has failed.”
Supporters of the removal of the prevailing wage requirement claimed the action would enable to the state to enjoy enough savings to build five new schools for the cost of three. White said the data from the study found quite the opposite. He said the study found no savings to taxpayers, despite diminished wages for the laborers on the job.
“Building four schools for the price of three or five for the price of three would be a 25 percent savings,” White said. “It’s totally untrue.”
White said many of their members have lost not only wages, but also lost benefits because of the provision’s removal.
“When you compare it to surrounding states, they’ve lost even more,” he said. “The folks in surrounding states that have prevailing wage have seen modest increases. You’ve seen huge cuts in wages and benefits.”
White and his organization plan to use the data to build their case for the legislature to reinstate the prevailing wage law in the next legislative session. White said the provision has done more harm than good, despite what it was touted to have been in the beginning.
“We want good paying jobs and we want people to have good benefits,” he said. “There’s also cost to the taxpayer when people are not paid and not productive and don’t have those benefits.”