Veterans to Lansing: prevailing wage protects our jobs
Veterans in Michigan’s building trades urge lawmakers to support good jobs for veterans and protect prevailing wage
LANSING- Veterans from Michigan’s skilled workforce arrived in Lansing today with a single message for lawmakers: a vote against prevailing wage is a vote against high-quality jobs that allow veterans to support themselves and their families.
“After serving in the Navy I worked many jobs before becoming an Operating Engineer,” said Jeff McCarthy, a business agent for Operating Engineers 324 and Navy veteran. “The Operating Engineers provided the sense of brotherhood and discipline I enjoyed in the military, while allowing me to employ the skills I had spent years honing during my service. I take pride in my job as an operating engineer, and I ask lawmakers in Lansing to protect the jobs that allow veterans to continue serving our communities when we return to civilian life.”
As the demand for skilled workers continues to climb in Michigan and nationwide, veterans are valuable hires who often bring years of experience and leadership skills to the job site. Veterans nationwide are filling the demand for skilled workers, and the construction industry is among the top five industries employing veterans in Michigan.
“Veterans bring with them the experience, grit and sense of unity necessary to succeed in the skilled trades,” said Brad Reed, a business representative for the Michigan Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC) and Army veteran. “By protecting the prevailing wage, these high-skill, high-demand jobs are more available and accessible to our nation’s heroes.”
“Protecting our skilled trades economy by protecting the prevailing wage makes it possible for veterans to find good-paying jobs in the skilled trades,” said Scott Brown, business agent for the Michigan Laborers’ District Council and Navy veteran. “When we provide quality careers to our veterans we don’t just say ‘thank you’ to the men and women who served our country, we deepen Michigan’s pool of talented workers and we build the workforce needed to keep Michigan’s economy moving.”
A study of the 2015 prevailing wage repeal in Indiana showed that, after the repeal, highly skilled workers dropped out of the workforce, and contractors replaced them with low-quality, low-skilled labor.
“I’ve worked hard and am dedicated to my work as a carpenter. It would be hard for me to have to give this career up and find another one, so I can support myself and my family,” said Jesse Cowell, a carpenter with MRCC and veteran Marine who entered the trades by taking welding classes in high school. “Not many people have the privilege of saying they enjoy going to their job each day. I do, and I hope I’m able to continue saying that in the years to come.”