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Government, Politics & Issues

Page Signs Bill Making Prevailing Wage Enforcement Program Permanent

St. Louis County now has a permanent office that will enforce prevailing wage laws on construction projects with county tax incentives.
File photo / Maria Altman
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St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County now has a permanent office that will enforce prevailing wage laws on construction projects with county tax incentives.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page signed legislation Tuesday that would lock into place prevailing wage compliance.

The St. Louis County enacted legislation in 2019 requiring prevailing wage on projects that had used county tax incentives. And Page signed an executive order creating the post of prevailing wage enforcement coordinator. Janson Thomas, one of Page’s staffers who previously served as a top aide to labor-friendly state Sens. Gina Walsh and Tim Green, was selected for that post.

The bill that Page signed on Tuesday, which the St. Louis County Council passed without opposition, would place that office into county statute — effectively making a permanent position that can’t be abolished through another executive order.

“At the heart of the prevailing wage law is that government ought to use its buying power in the construction sector to make sure that we’re taking care of the welfare of the workers and their families,” Page said at the bill signing ceremony.

Prevailing wage laws have long been a priority for labor unions. Some labor leaders who joined Page on Tuesday, such as Frank Jacobs of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 1, said that prevailing wage regulations prevent skilled workers on government-incentivized projects from being exploited.

“Because in today’s construction market, we far too often witness a race-to-the-bottom mentality. And that’s nothing short of unacceptable,” Jacobs said. “Our members represent the safest, most productive and highly skilled workforce. And with the prevailing wage, all the county projects will have that advantage.”

John Stiffler of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council said the enforcement program gives county officials a multitude of options in making sure prevailing wage laws are followed.

“This ordinance gives St. Louis County the necessary tools to investigate potential violations by requiring contractors to provide certified payroll, allow access to job sites and post notices to keep workers informed of their rights,” Stiffler said.

The City of St. Louis enacted a prevailing wage law on incentivized projects last year.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

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