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1000s Rally to Preserve IN’s Construction Wage; Senate Bumps Vote to Consider Amendments

pic by Brett Voorhies

pic by Brett Voorhies

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Just hours after thousands of contractors and laborers flooded the statehouse to oppose repeal of the Common Construction Wage (CCW), Senate leaders decided to put off further discussion on the topic until later in the week. 

HB 1019 would end the system that determines wages for publicly funded projects with price tags of $350,000 or more.  Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long said lawmakers need more time to consider 27 proposed amendments to the bill, which has already passed the Republican-controlled House but is currently stuck in the State Senate. Republican Governor Mike Pence is as good as guaranteed to sign the bill if it gets to his desk.  

Monday’s protest was a massive success which put the bipartisan nature of CCW support on display. Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) told the crowd of not-only-union-member that “it’s a myth that repealing the law would greatly reduce project costs as bill supporters contend.”  Dewey Pearman, Executive Director of the Construction Advancement Foundation, agreed with Soliday saying, “They’re using very fuzzy math on how much money it would save taxpayers.”

Speaking to the Chicago Post-Tribune, Pearman argued that “proponents of the repeal first said it would save taxpayers 30 percent then lowered it to 20 percent.”  He noted that neither figure really adds up since “total labor costs are only 20 percent of the cost of the job.”

The rally was organized by the Indiana Building Contractors Alliance.  Jeff Hagerman of The Hagerman Group, a construction firm participating in the rally, highlighted the CCW’s inclusivity:

“This is not a union/non-union issue. This is a business perspective, an issue for construction companies, construction employees, as well as taxpayers for the state of Indiana. And I think it’s important that we voice our concern, and more importantly the facts.”

A vote could still come this week, so opponents are expected to continue rallying in the upcoming days.


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