Legislation that would eliminate the prevailing wage requirement in Missouri was heard Tuesday by a State Senate committee.
The state calculates various wages that are to be paid in each county and in St. Louis for construction trades on building projects. The sponsor, State Senator Dan Brown (R, Rolla), says eliminating prevailing wage requirements would give smaller businesses outside of St. Louis and Kansas City a fair shot at landing construction contracts.
“This was originally brought to me by some of my county commissioners, and they were actually Democrats," Brown told the Senate Committee on Small Business, Insurance and Industry. "They were quite concerned about (the) prevailing wage law and how it was preventing them from building some sheds, and also some of their repair work -- a lot of those issues have now gone into the realm of prevailing wage law, and was driving what they considered maintenance costs up greatly.”
Opponents say dumping the prevailing wage requirement could result in out-of-state contractors raiding jobs from Missouri, as well as companies using low-wage, low-skilled workers. Randy Long is a non-union mechanical contractor from southwestern Missouri who sided with labor unions in opposing the bill.
“Everybody deserves a good quality wage in this day and time," Long said. "We don’t need out-of-state workmen coming in at a lesser rate to compete with us…prevailing wage needs to be protected for that reason.”
A committee vote will be held at a later date. Meanwhile, a similar bill in the Missouri House would allow school districts to exempt themselves from the prevailing wage.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport