It hasn’t gotten as much media attention as you might expect, but another initiative to loosen the stranglehold Big Labor held on Wisconsin government for the past four or more decades is underway, and it’s about time.
The prevailing wage law is an example of naked aggression by unions against any non-union contractor who might otherwise compete successfully for public works projects. In practical terms, “Prevailing Wage” means the union wage customarily paid for a particular job in a particular locality. A law mandating that local governments pay that rate effectively steers them toward the local union contractor rather than someone from another location who might offer to perform the same work at a lighter toll for taxpayers.
It’s similar to the federal Davis-Bacon Act, contrived by New York construction unions early in the 20th century to fend off competition from Alabama contractors hoping for employment in public works projects.
But now Republican lawmakers and the Walker administration are looking at modification, if not repeal, of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law.
A report recently produced by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WTA) identifies substantial benefits to state and local taxpayers from prevailing wage reform.
The WTA report concludes that this state’s method of calculating prevailing wage cost taxpayers nearly an extra $300 million in 2014.
Prevailing wage is an unwholesome relic of an era in which Big Labor—which oh-so-sanctimoniously pretends to be a defender of the oppressed—used federal law as a vehicle of racist oppression.
Wisconsin lawmakers have an opportunity in the next few months to clean up this expensive and fundamentally ugly mess.