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Michigan’s Skilled Trades Unions Blast Latest Prevailing Wage Effort

Michigan’s Skilled Trades Unions Blast Latest Prevailing Wage Effort

Prevailing wage repeal is the wrong direction for Michigan’s economy, talent retention and recruitment, leaders say

LANSING –The Michigan Laborers’ District Council, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC) and Operating Engineers 324 (OE324) joined together today in opposition to the Michigan Association of Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) latest effort to repeal Michigan’s skilled trades law.  The three organizations represent tens of thousands of men and women across Michigan.

“Repealing Michigan’s prevailing wage law is the wrong direction for Michigan’s economy and for talent retention in Michigan,” said Mike Jackson, executive secretary-treasurer of MRCC. “Michigan’s prevailing wage helps to ensure fair, competitive compensation for workers, and fund the top-of-the-line training programs that are closing Michigan’s skilled labor gap. Repealing the prevailing wage sends a terrible message to businesses and workers and will harm Michigan’s economic recovery, skilled labor force and local communities.”

A recent report from the University of Utah showed that nearly 80 percent of Michigan’s future skilled tradesmen and women are enrolled in apprenticeship programs jointly run by unions and management. By contrast, employer-run programs, such as those provided by ABC, make up just four percent of enrollment in apprenticeship programs.  Union-backed programs are also more diverse, the study found, providing more opportunities in the skilled trades for women and minorities.

“Through our Joint Apprenticeship Training Programs, Michigan’s building trade unions are working hard to fill the increased demand for skilled labor at no cost to the taxpayer or the student. Repealing prevailing wage would be a major setback for recruiting and retaining Michigan’s skilled workforce,” said Geno Alessandrini, Business Manager of the Michigan Laborers District Council. 

According to a national report, 60 percent of contractors had trouble finding skilled workers in 2017. Construction will continue to be a top job provider in the state of Michigan through 2019, the University of Michigan’s RSQE forecast predicted in October.

“With our state’s infrastructure needs at an all-time high, we can’t afford to turn away much-needed skilled trades talent, and repealing Michigan’s prevailing wage will do just that,” said Douglas W. Stockwell, Operating Engineers 324 Business Manager and General Vice-President. “We are already working at break-neck pace trying to fill the demand for skilled workers. The worst thing we can do for our economy is make Michigan less attractive to workers and employers.”

The coalition has also rolled out the first of a series of ads to educate hardworking Michiganders on the need to protect the prevailing wage and the shortcomings of ABC’s training programs. The ads can be viewed here and  here.