Whitmer reinstating current wages is unfair and unnecessary – Mackinac Center
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on October 9, 2021.
A few years ago, the United Auto Workers wanted to build a retirement cabin on Black Lake for their recently retired president, Dennis Williams. He received two offers from union companies for the 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath, 1,885-square-foot home: one for $ 851,000 and another for $ 1.3 million.
But, according to the union spokesperson, “The UAW believed that these [union] the bids were too high for the cabin construction. It was therefore necessary to bring in inexpensive non-union labor to complete the project.
At the headquarters of the Michigan Education Association, our state’s largest union after the UAW, officials contract janitorial services to several companies each year. These cleaning companies are not union companies.
In other words, even Michigan’s largest unions are tendering projects and services. They weighed the cost against the value of what they were going to get, and then decided which offer to take. What they didn’t do was arbitrarily decide that they were only going to pay union wages, regardless of whether other companies or workers might as well do the job.
So why is Governor Gretchen Whitmer doing the opposite in restoring the “going wages” to contractors in the state? This arbitrary wage floor increases the prices of taxpayers without any guarantee of better services or better products.
In 2018, Michigan lawmakers repealed the state’s current wage law. The law had imposed union pay scales on public construction projects. In other words, even though, say, a non-union person laying grass seed would normally charge $ 25 an hour, state law required a school in Detroit to pay $ 29 an hour. .
It has skewed the playing field against construction companies and non-union workers, the vast majority of whom are in Michigan. Less than 20% of construction workers belong to a union. The law made little economic sense and defied common sense. Lawmakers were right to get rid of it.
Unions and Democrats have said it will mean fewer jobs and lower wages. The opposite has happened. As of June 2018, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan has gained 6,000 construction jobs.
The average wage for construction workers rose from $ 62,378 per year to $ 67,631, an 8.4% gain that is well above inflation. This is despite the COVID-19 outbreak, and these job and income gains both exceed the national average.
Thus, individuals and companies accept calls for tenders. The same goes for unions – at least when it comes to their own money, rather than that of taxpayers. Let anyone bid, rate them on their merits, and get the best work for the best price. Directing jobs to unions is unfair and unnecessary.
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