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Feb
2015
17

TODAY: Indiana Construction Unions Fight the GOP’s Wage-Slashing Sneak Attack

Bosma

Bosma


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UPDATE: This morning’s hearing on this issue was live-tweeted by some in attendance. Below are a handful of embedded tweets offering further insight

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Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma has revealed that the Indiana GOP will try to push HB 1019, a bill that would repeal the state’s 80-year-old Common Construction Wage (CCW), as early as today. While the bill has not been scheduled for committee hearing yet, the deadline to adopt committee reports is February 25th, and sources revealed that it is expected to be part of a broad agenda in what will be a busy week in Indianapolis.  

Last week the Indiana AFL-CIO sent an information alert warning that, “Reliable sources within the Republican House Caucus say their leadership will seek to ram through House Bill 1019 next week to eliminate it.”

Supporters of the CCW, which is similar to other states’ prevailing wage, explain that it helps to keep wages up for both union and non-union construction workers.  Supporters also fear that repeal would allow fly-by-night contractors who employ undertrained workers to come in from out-of-state and underbid local companies.  Among those opposing HB 1019 is Mike Kerr, Vice President of Wilhelm Construction.  He told WTHR 13:

“You want somebody putting that steel up that’s had the proper training. Not somebody picked up off the street for the cheapest wage.”

Kerr says skilled union trades are a part of the company’s business plan for an important reason.

“They provide a large, mobile, well-trained workforce where they go through a four-year apprentice program where they get an associate’s degree. The cost of that labor is this training, so I think you get better quality projects,” Kerr said.

An elimination of the CCW could also hurt the future of the industry in Indiana by denying local workers opportunities to rise up through the ranks as apprentices.  Kerr, himself a former apprentice, touched on the importance of the apprenticeship system, saying: “The best training I ever got was as a union iron worker. They need to appreciate the skill that construction workers need; that they are professionals.”

Rep. Gail Riecken, a Democrat who represents the state’s 77th district, explained her opposition to HB 1019, fearing it will permanently harm the state’s construction industry:

The state’s building trades unions provide an information site highlighting the various reasons keeping the law intact is best for Indiana.

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