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Legislation would scrap state’s prevailing wage

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources

A bill before the Minnesota Legislature would allow the state to suspend prevailing wage requirements on state-funded construction projects if November budget projections show a 1% or greater deficit.

State prevailing wage legislation is patterned after the federal Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federally funded construction projects to pay the “prevailing wage” for specific job classifications. The prevailing wage has been described as a “super minimum wage” for the construction industry.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chris Gerlach, claims the legislation would prevent Minnesota taxpayers from paying “more than they ought for market-rate services.” Supporters claim the bill will create jobs and be an efficient use of taxpayer money.

Not surprisingly, unions disagree. They claim the state law guards against the deflationary wages and cost cutting that prompted passage of the Davis-Bacon Act during the Great Depression.

Each side has studies to back its position. Passage seems unlikely in the Democratic Farmer Labor Party controlled Legislature, but supporters hope to build on rising economic anxiety to pass the measure.

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