Common construction wage repeal to take effect
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in May, signed into law repealing the common construction wage statute requirement, and it will officially take effect Wednesday, July 1.
The common construction wage allowed a local board to set the wages for government-funded, public projects that cost more than $350,000.
Each wage board was charged with considering county-specific wage data from the AFL-CIO, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and other interested parties to determine wage rates appropriate to the county where the project is located. The Indiana Dept. of Labor provided assistance to the wage hearings. The county board of commissioners appointed three of the five wage board members for each project.
Supporters of the repeal said it will help save as much as 20 percent on project costs.
Pence said wages should be set by the marketplace, not government bureaucracy, and added that the repeal puts taxpayers first.
The opposition strongly disagrees. ‘Now they can hire as many low-wage workers as they want,’ Kent Lance, a construction worker from Palmyra, said, while calling the decision to eliminate the law ‘terrible.’
‘The Common Construction Wage Law helps hard-working, skilled, local workers on public construction projects earn a decent wage to support their families,’ according to commonconstructionwage.org.
It was first established in 1935 as a way to keep out-of-state contractors from undercutting Indiana contractors with cheaper, less skilled labor, the website said.
The repeal passed the Senate, 27-22, with Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, voting for it. The House voted, 54-40, to approve the final version. Both area representatives, Rhonda Rhoads, R-Corydon, and Steve Davisson, R-Salem, voted in favor of the repeal legislation.
The Indiana Association of County Commissioners was neutral on the bill.
The Common Construction Wage Law was used for projects such as the Harrison County Hospital, Harrison County Government Center and Harrison County Highway Dept. garage facility, among others.
The bill also increases the ‘small project’ cap for a public works project from $150,000 to $300,000, a change the IACC supported.
All public works projects under $300,000 may be performed without awarding a public works project (previously, projects under $150,000 could be performed without awarding a public works project). Therefore, these projects may be performed ‘in-house’ at the discretion of the agency.