Information about Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Laws

Information about efforts to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law
in support of the WMU-AAUP Draft Resolution Opposing Repeal
(June 2015)

Updated July 1, 2015: Resolution PASSED.

View the resolution here.


Status of bills in Michigan State Legislature

Three bills that would repeal Michigan’s prevailing-wage laws (Senate Bills 1, 2, and 3) passed the Michigan Senate on May 14, 2015. All 10 Democratic state senators voted against the repeal, along with five Republicans who broke ranks to oppose the measure, while 22 Republican senators voted in favor of repeal. Prevailing wage laws require that workers employed on state-funded construction projects be paid union-scale wages and benefits.

While Gov. Snyder has not announced unequivocally that he will veto the bills, he has expressed strong opposition to them. MLive reported in May that the governor believes that “repealing the prevailing wage law. . . could hurt his plan to build the state’s skilled trades workforce.” 

Despite the possibility of a veto, these bills could still become law. Anticipating a veto, organizations who are pushing for repeal have announced a petition drive that would end-run the governor. MLive reports:

Michigan’s Constitution provides a path for citizens to send bills to Lansing. Once there, the Legislature has 40 days to enact a measure into law by way of a majority vote in each chamber — or let it go to the statewide ballot.

But a ballot proposal isn’t in the cards. [House Speaker Kevin] Cotter and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, both want to complete the repeal process in the state Legislature by the end of the year.

Although the Detroit News reported on June 15 that “More than 59 percent of likely voters support maintaining Michigan’s prevailing wage, a more than 2-1 advantage over the 25 percent of voters who want the law scrapped, according to a statewide poll,” supporters of the repeal have deep pockets and powerful friends and could easily collect the required 250,000 signatures.

Links to news articles and other information about the repeal legislation

Poll: Voters want to keep prevailing wage law
Detroit News, June 16, 2015

In next strike against unions, GOP states go after wage laws
Associated Press, June 15, 2015

Debate rages on whether ‘prevailing wage” repeal would save state money
Bridge Magazine/Crain’s Detroit Business, June 15, 2015

Republican leaders ready to go around Gov. Rick Snyder on prevailing wage repeal
MLive, May 28, 2015

Prevailing wage supporters plan defense as repeal petitions are approved for circulation
MLive, May 27, 2015

Senate votes 22-15 to repeal prevailing wage laws
Detroit Free Press, May 14, 2015

Prevailing wage and repeal legislation language
(Source: Michigan Legislature, Michigan Compiled Laws)

Who is behind the effort to repeal prevailing wage laws?

Prevailing Wage Repeal Act
Model Legislation, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

ALEC, NFIB Push Prevailing Wage Repeal
PR Watch, March 24, 2015

Studies of economic impacts of repealing prevailing wage laws

Duncan, Kevin, and Alex Lantsberg (2015). “How Weakening Wisconsin’s Prevailing Wage Policy Would Affect Public Construction Costs and Economic Activity.” Smart Cities Prevail.

Kelsay, Michael P., James I. Sturgeon, and Kelly D. Pinkham (2011). “The Adverse Economic Impact from Repeal of the Prevailing Wage Law in Missouri.” Council for Promoting American Business.

Mahalia, Nooshin (2008). “Prevailing Wages and Government Contracting Costs: A Review of the Research.” Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper #215.

Manzo IV, Frank, and LeNee Carroll (2014). “Self-Sufficient Construction Workers: Why Prevailing Wage Laws Are the Best Deal for Taxpayers.” Illinois Economic Policy Institute.

Manzo IV, Frank, and Robert Bruno (2014). “Labor Unions, Prevailing Wage Laws, and Right-to-Work Laws in the Construction Industry.” Illinois Economic Policy Institute.

O’Leary, Sean (2015). “West Virginia’s Prevailing Wage: Good for Business, Good for Workers.” West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Philips, Peter (2006). “Quality Construction, Strong Communities: The Effect of Prevailing Wage Regulation on the Construction Industry in Iowa.” University of Utah.

Philips, Peter (1998). “Kansas and Prevailing Wage Legislation.” Kansas Senate Labor and Industries Committee.

Price, Mark, and Stephen Herzenberg (2011). “The Benefits of State Prevailing Wage Laws: Better Jobs and More Productive Competition in the Construction Industry.” Keystone Research: Policy Ideas for Pennsylvania in the New Economy.

Quesada, Alison Dickson; Frank Manzo IV, Dale Belman, and Robert Bruno (2013). “A Weakened State: The Economic and Social Impacts of Repeal of the Prevailing Wage Law in Illinois.” University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana School of Labor and Employment Relations.

Vincent, Jeff (2005). “Analysis of School Construction Costs in Ohio and Indiana.” Institute for the Study of Labor in Society, Indiana University.