Prevailing Wage Laws are critical to your ability to earn a living

What is prevailing wage?

  • Prevailing Wage laws set wage rates for construction workers on publicly financed projects.
  • On prevailing wage jobs, contractors are not allowed to pay less than the area wage rates for each craft.
  • The wage rates are set by the government – each area of the state has their own rates
  • Rates are based on wage surveys turned in by contractors and workers on construction jobs in their area
  • The government sets the rates for each area based on those surveys and what workers make on those jobs.

Which projects have Prevailing Wage requirements in Local 49 jurisdiction?

  • Most jobs that have any federal funding prevailing wage laws apply
  • Minnesota has a state prevailing wage law that applies to all projects with any state funding
  • City, County, School District funded jobs in Minnesota do not have prevailing wage protection unless that local government has passed their own prevailing wage law – Twin Cities, Duluth, and a few other areas have passed their own local prevailing wage ordinances
  • North Dakota does not have a state prevailing wage law – city, county, school district or state funded jobs do not have prevailing wage protection
  • South Dakota does not have a state prevailing wage law – city, county, school district or state funded jobs do not have prevailing wage protection

Why is Prevailing Wage important to construction workers?

  1. Prevailing wage laws allow you to earn good wages and benefits
  • Contractors that pay good wages, both Union and Non-Union, are protected in the bidding process from cheap labor out of state competitors coming in and taking work away from local skilled workers and contractors
  • If contractors can’t win bids paying good wages and benefits – they are forced to cut wages and benefits to compete


  1. Prevailing wage laws benefit Union and Non-Union construction workers
  • Union and Non-Union workers make the prevailing wage on those projects
  • Area wage standards protect both Union and Non-Union skilled workers from being undercut in the market by unskilled workers


  1. Prevailing wage laws are critical to public safety, and protect taxpayers investments
  • Where prevailing wage is weak or doesn’t exist you invite contractors that employ unskilled cheap labor to build your infrastructure and buildings – unskilled labor will build unsafe bridges, buildings, etc…
  • You get what you pay for – infrastructure and buildings paid for by taxpayers should be built to last, not on the cheap – it costs less to build it right the first time with skilled professionals than it does to build it cheap with unskilled labor


Prevailing Wage is under attack

  • Wisconsin repealed prevailing wage for more than 90% of public projects
  • Indiana fully repealed prevailing wage for all public projects
  • Anti-worker forces are pushing to repeal prevailing wage in Michigan right now
  • Anti-worker forces are pushing to weaken or repeal prevailing wage in West Virginia
  • Minnesota has seen attempts to weaken prevailing wage laws in the last 5 years

What happens when Prevailing Wage goes away or is significantly weakened?

  • Wages for all construction workers, Union and Non-Union go down
  • Skilled construction workers leave the state – they move to where wages are higher
  • Contractors seek wage and benefit concessions from Union contracts because they get underbid by unskilled contractors using cheap labor
  • Quality of construction projects goes down
  • Worker injury rates go up
  • The entire construction industry races to the bottom – all local workers suffer, out of state business owners prosper

What are we doing to make sure Minnesota maintains a strong Prevailing Wage?

  • Educating the public – we are launching a campaign to talk directly to the public about who we are, what we do, and the value we bring to the state
  • We will be talking about prevailing wage, why it is important and what it means to construction workers and those that aren’t in the industry
  • Building the campaign infrastructure to be able to get you information on issues, communicate directly to your representatives, and spread our message to your social networks
  • We will be unveiling a brand new campaign website that will be focused on telling our stories in the Winter of 2015

Valid research shows that repealing prevailing wage leads to:

Less workforce training

Less educated and less experienced workforce

Higher injury rates

Increased law suits

Less than middle-class wages

Lower health and pension coverage

Source: Michigan Prevails

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