Prevailing Wage Set to Be Big Issue in Coming Months

The prevailing wage law requires workers get paid union-rate wages for state construction projects.

Jake Neher/WDET

Prevailing wage will likely be a hot topic in Lansing this year. That’s the state law that requires workers get paid union-rate wages for state construction projects.

A group has submitted signatures to the Board of State Canvassers to get rid of the law. Proponents of keeping prevailing wage are worried that if the board approves the petition, the Legislature will then vote on the measure – a move that would let it become law without the governor’s signature or a vote by the people.

State Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) wants to keep prevailing wage.

“Prevailing wage ensures that local people get paid a living wage to work on the most important projects in the state,” said Ananich. “Schools, bridges, roads, public projects. And make sure that they’re paid for their training.”

A large crowd of union workers rallied at the Capitol Wednesday ahead of the first full session day of the year. They wanted to urge lawmakers to not vote on the proposal if given the chance.

Where it matters is it makes a fair, level playing field for everybody to bid on work,” said Justin Pomerville of UA Local 85. “The non-union companies that are bidding on this work, their people are being paid an unfair wage.”

But Republicans are in favor of getting rid of the law, and if the measure comes before them, it’ll at least get a vote in the Senate. That’s according to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive).

“I want to save the taxpayers money,” he said. “That’s what I want to do. It’s their money.”


  • Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.