Pennsylvania’s already aggressive attack on the prevailing wage took a sharp turn for the worse this weekend with a memo from State Rep. Brad Roae that attempts to link prevailing wage reform to children of deceased military veterans and child cancer patients. From the memo:
I will soon be introducing legislation that would exempt construction projects that are “for the kids” from the prevailing wage laws. Construction projects such as a children’s cancer ward of a hospital, a special education wing at a public school or a facility that offers counseling for children who lost a military parent in a war zone would be exempt from the prevailing wage laws even if government funds were used to pay for some of the construction costs.
I think we can all agree that children who are sick, have disabilities or have lost a military parent have greater needs than the building trades unions.
The outrageous suggestion was roundly rebuked by Pennsylvania talk radio host Rick Smith:
The truth is, if State Rep. Brad Roae really cared about the well being of sick kids he wouldn’t push legislation that takes money out of the pockets of their parents. To use cancer patients as the poster children for a wage-cutting agenda is truly disgusting though it is not exactly surprising in the Tom Corbett era.
Undercutting the prevailing wage in the name of “taxpayers savings” is not a new idea in Pennsylvania, but it is a failed one according to Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center:
“Weakening prevailing wage laws is a failed policy that Pennsylvania already tried in the late 1990’s and that didn’t work. When it comes to construction work, you get what you pay for. Prevailing wage laws help ensure the use of more skilled and experienced workers on state projects.
“At a time when Pennsylvania needs every middle-class job it can find, it makes no sense to weaken a law that ensures that state projects hire local workers that spend their earnings at local businesses.”