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Prevailing Wage on the Ballot

In Michigan, Trump's Betsy DeVos and ABC look to lower construction wages

Brian Young's picture
May 17, 2017

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) are at it again.  This time, they are trying to bypass the will of Governor Rick Snyder and bring a petition to the voters to repeal prevailing wage laws in the state.

Prevailing wage laws require that projects that are funded by the state pay a wage that is at the  aerage area standard.  This wage is usually right around the union wage for the projects.  Michigan has had a prevailing wage since 1965.  Now ABC is filing a petition that would circumvent the legislature and bring the question directly to the voters.  This is the second time that ABC is trying to file a petition to repeal prevailing wage.  Two years ago, ABC presented a similar petition but the Board of State Canvassers found numerous cases of duplicate signatures as well as invalid or fraudulent names.   The legislature has also failed in repealing prevailing wage since Republican Governor Rick Snyder has vowed to veto it.

If the Board of State Canvassers approved ABC’s petition, the group would have to collect 252,523 valid signatures in 180 days.  The proposed repeal would then go before the Republican led legislature for a simple up or down vote.  The Governor would not be able to veto the repeal.  The repeal would also allocate $75,000 to inform the public that prevailing wage is no longer state law.  This is being done so that the proposal will be immune from repeal.  According to the Michigan State Constitution voters are prohibited from overturning laws that have appropriations attached to them.  Clearly, ABC wants to prevent what happened in Ohio were a Right-to-Work law was passed only to be overturned by the voters who saw the negative impact of losing their voices at work.

In addition to ABC, the repeal effort is being supported and funded by the Michigan Freedom Fund.  This far right, anti-worker group was set up by Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her political cohorts.  They were instrumental in pushing a Right-to-Work law in Michigan that Snyder signed into law in 2012. The fund is run by Greg McNeilly a close associate of the DeVos’ who ran Betsy’s husband Dick’s campaign for Governor.

As the Economic Policy Institute has shown, wages are lower thanks to prevailing wage repeals. Now ABC and the DeVos’ are looking for 252,000 Michigan voters who are willing to screw over their neighbors in the interest of big corporations. If Trump was able to do that at a national level, maybe ABE will succeed in Michigan.

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