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Trade unions to launch campaign to protect prevailing wage


Trade unions plan to launch a petition drive tomorrow to shield Michigan’s prevailing wage law from another petition drive.

The effort is a response to another proposed initiative. It would ban a requirement that contractors pay union-level wages on state-funded construction projects. That’s led by non-union contractors. They say prevailing wage drives up their costs.         

Republican leaders in the Legislature say they plan to vote early next year on the initiative to ban prevailing wage requirements. But Pat Devlin of the Michigan Building Trades union says he hopes GOP leaders will simply let both questions go to the ballot.

“If the voters of Michigan don’t think prevailing wage is a good thing, give them the right to vote for it," Devlin said. "But why play this game about the end-around when – it’s just a horrible way to run and to pass legislation.”

Devlin says the issue is more than just paychecks for union members. He says their dues also help finance training for construction workers who work on public projects.

"That money that we put into the training could go into the contractors’ pockets, or it could go in our workers paychecks, but everybody that knows this industry knows the investment we make to bring in new blood," he said.

The petition campaign would have to collect more than 250,000 signatures to get an initiative in front of the Legislature or on the ballot.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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