Steel Advice - The Fabricator's Resource
Dedicated to support the steel fabricator with real world solutions to real world problems.
The Washington State
Prevailing Wage Loophole
After discussing the prevailing wage loophole with Labor and Industries, they suggest that in order to change laws in this state people have to start making phone calls and writing letters to their local legislators.
Starting now may not solve this problem today, but it would help for next time.
And you KNOW there will be a next time.
The Department of Labor and Industries in Washington State established prevailing wage rates for each trade and occupation employed in the performance of public work for the purpose of ensuring that public construction projects do not destabilize the local construction industry.
The goal is that this law would prevent contractors from under bidding one another by lowering worker wages. With worker wages out of the equation, they believed contractors would seek to maximize their workers output and their own ability to manage work better than their competition. What we have here is another "best laid plans" story.
What the lawmakers forgot was to include language within the requirements that would prevent contractors who reside outside of the governed areas to have a financial advantage. In essence, the law actually prevents local contractors from being competitive.
Prevailing wage rates are issued by county. Compliance to the law requires that the contractor pay workers the wage required by the county that the work is performed in. If the fabrication shop does not reside in one of these counties, then there is no prevailing wage to enforce.
When the economy goes bad, public works projects seem to spring up out of nowhere and Washington State has had a long run of them over the past few years. New schools, university expansions, community centers and art galleries are being bid and built with public money.
The State of Washington created public projects as their answer to an economic hardship. With the existing prevailing wage laws in place they are actually sending these public funds out of state, forcing their own economy to remain stagnant. Unless this law is revised to eliminate the unfair advantage for out of state contractors, it will remain as an open invitation.
This problem has become more apparent as work has thinned and prices have dropped. Out of area contractors have a 20% to 25% advantage due to this prevailing wage law, justifying the added shipping costs. Instead of creating a condition for contractors to pay a standard wage and maximize economy otherwise, they have succeeded in sending the work - and the cash - elsewhere.
No language within the law to prevent out of state influx
Those who are concerned about this problem that exists within the Prevailing Wage law may choose to contact their local legislator to notify them of the discord and start activity towards a remedy.
Click on the link above to find who serves for your district.
Even if you only have time for a phone call, be sure and make the time to do so!
These people were elected to serve, and if they want to be elected again, it is issues like this that will make the difference with making the next office or not.
What can WE DO?
Did you know.....?
In 1891 Kansas was the first state to pass a "prevailing wage" for its own public work projects, followed by New York in 1894, Oklahoma in 1909, Idaho in 1911, Arizona in 1912, New Jersey in 1913, Massachusetts in 1914, Nebraska in 1923.
Beginning in 1931 and prior to the end of World War II, twenty additional states passed their own prevailing wage laws. In 1931 Congress passed the Davis Bacon Act, the Federal Prevailing Wage law that remains in force today.