Often as not the headline “New research shows” is a tipoff that an interest group has paid somebody to produce the findings it wanted, and a lazy or agenda-driven reporter or editor is perfectly happy to help dress it up as scientific inquiry from some think tank.
Dwindling numbers of people fall for this game, so when defenders of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws play it anyway, it’s obvious they know they’re losing their battle in the Legislature—after expending much effort insisting there’s really no battle at all.
Last week the pro-prevailing wage forces trotted out “New Research” showing prevailing wage, already known to cost Wisconsin taxpayers a needless $200-300 million annually, is really an economic bonanza we can’t afford to lose. We thought it might be interesting to check the researchers’ pedigree. Guess what we found.
Clicking on “About Us,” where you usually find out who runs an organization, we found zilch. But there was a reference to the tax-exempt status of Smart Cities Prevail so we looked up the IRS filings that identify the sole purpose of its existence:
“Educating the general public and elected officials regarding the benefits of paying prevailing wages to construction workers on public works projects.”
Shazam! Smart Cities Prevail had about $700,000 in revenues last year, all from “contributions and grants.” Its president is Bill Feyling. We looked him up. Turns out he’s a union guy, Executive Director of the Carpenters 46 Northern California Counties Conference Board.
Oh, and did we mention that we found some of Mr. Feyling’s union memos to contractors about work rules and wages? They all came from an address in Oakland. It’s the same Oakland address given by Smart Cities Prevail in its IRS filings.
It’s not a think tank. It’s a union.