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Updated, 3:08 p.m., 8:13 p.m. 10/7/21 with comments from Whitmer’s office
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday announced that she’s bringing back prevailing wage for state construction projects.
That comes after a 2018 ballot measure, backed by the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan (ABC), was enacted by the GOP-led Legislature killing the prevailing wage. Then-Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, had opposed the policy, but Michigan law allows for the Legislature to adopt citizen-led petitions without governors having the power to veto.
Whitmer issued a “Buy Michigan” executive directive in 2019 and asked the Department of Management, Technology and Budget (DTMB) to review the state of Michigan’s purchasing criteria. Spokesperson Bobby Leddy said DTMB has the authority under the Management and Budget Act “to set contract terms that benefit the state,” Her directive will only apply to state projects, not local ones.
“By reinstating prevailing wage, we are ensuring that working people get treated with dignity and respect, which starts with a fair wage,” said Whitmer. “As governor, I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with working people and unions who built the middle class. By reinstating prevailing wage, we are ensuring working people can earn a decent standard of living, saving taxpayers money and time on crucial infrastructure projects, and offering Michigan a highly-trained workforce to rely on as we build up our roads and bridges, replace lead pipes, install high-speed internet, and more.”
ABC opposes the measure and plan to take court action and the Michigan Republican Party slammed the governor.
“Once again, Gretchen Whitmer illegally and unilaterally changes the rules she doesn’t like. This is another reckless and out of touch power grab by a Governor who is losing approval points by the day. Michiganders of all walks of life are ready to turn the page on Gretchen Whitmer, her hypocrisy, and her failed policies and no amount of pandering is going to change that,” said spokesperson Gustavo Portela.
The move was hailed by labor leaders, however.
“We applaud Governor Whitmer’s decision to restore prevailing wage requirements on state projects.” said Tom Lutz, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights. “This decision protects Michigan’s investments in infrastructure because when prevailing wages are the expectation, contractors have to compete on a level playing field based on quality of their skilled work, not on the exploitation of their workers.”
Steve Claywell, president of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, said that Whitmer’s action helps “restore confidence by workers and employers alike. The restoring of prevailing wage provides a fair and equal bidding process allowing for highly trained men and women to be paid a good wage.
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