After an op-ed on Redding.com that called for the city to enact a charter to circumvent prevailing wage laws, former Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) lobbyist Kevin Dayton received a response from the workers whose pockets he wishes to reach into.
Dayton, a former member of the ABC’s “Mean Team”, was protesting the fact that prevailing wages are being paid on public works projects saying lobbyists were at fault for living wages being paid in the region. Oh, those pesky pro-middle class lobbyists!
In response, Tom Curato, Business Agent for the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 228, noted that “prevailing wages aren’t evil and discussing them doesn’t need to be divisive.” He also pointed out the hypocrisy of an outsider such as Dayton telling locals to be weary of outsiders:
A little research shows that Dayton appears to be very anti-union and anti-prevailing wage. I’m curious to know what ax “Dayton from Roseville” has to grind up here in Redding. He questions why the people of Redding would allow the state to influence what we do. My question is “Why would we allow an individual from Roseville to influence what we do?”
In Curato’s concise defense of prevailing wages he explains that he has been on both sides of the prevailing wage, as worker and employer. He was grateful to receive a decent wage as a worker and is equally as grateful to provide them as an employer:
Prevailing wages are not evil. As I stated, they provide a livable wage. Well trained construction workers earn and deserve those wages. I find that most people don’t realize that unlike most careers, construction workers typically only get paid for the actual hours they work. Besides fighting sporadic working opportunities, if they stay home sick they don’t get paid, if there’s a holiday they don’t get paid, if they have to take personal time they don’t get paid, if they can’t work due to inclement weather they don’t get paid, if they take a vacation they don’t get paid. Prevailing wages help compensate for this, provide a livable wage, and provide a benefit package of health insurance, retirement, etc.
Curato also beats back the ABC propoganda point about the “chilling effect” increased wages have on local governments.
Contrary to what many think, prevailing wages (nationally) only add about 4-7 percent to the cost of a project.
I understand and agree with the need and desire to save money, cut budgets, and be prudent with the public’s money. I just don’t believe it needs to be on the backs of the skilled, hardworking people that actually labor to get the job done.
Read Curato’s entire response piece here.