Monday, December 7, 2015

Foes of Mich. workers take aim at prevailing wage again

Those behind an effort to sandbag Michigan's prevailing wage law are not giving up, despite the fact its first effort at a ballot measure failed because of the presence of a massive number of duplicate and improper names on the signature sheets.

Chris Fisher, leader of the anti-prevailing wage group, Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, has vowed to re-start the petition process, saying he would submit new petition language to the Secretary of State to do just that. He had to ditch the old campaign on Oct. 30.

Fisher's threat was prompted by an earlier press conference by the union-backed group, Protect Michigan Jobs, which found 43 percent of the 390,000 repeal signatures the so-called taxpayers group submitted to the state Board of Canvassers were invalid. That means the petition was more than 25,000 short of the 252,523 valid names state law required.

 Much of the funding for the petition effort came from the ultra-rich, ultra-right DeVos family of Grand Rapids, owners of the exploitative Amway direct sales firm. The Michigan campaign to repeal the prevailing wage, which would trash construction workers' wages and job protections, is part of a nationwide effort to destroy workers' pay and obliterate both their unions and their rights on the job.

Bart Carrigan, a co-chair of Protect Michigan Jobs and President and CEO of Associated General Contractors of Michigan, said the effort would be disastrous for workers:
Eliminating prevailing wage to cut wages and benefits of hard working skilled trades men and women in our state would hurt the Michigan economy, aggravating current worker shortages in the industry and discouraging young people from entering these valuable professions. Let's end this attack on skilled trade workers and the companies who hire them as quickly as possible, so we can focus on building a better Michigan.
Apparently, however, Protecting Michigan Taxpayers is confident that their deep-pocketed backers are willing to double-down on the incompetence of the anti-worker Associated Builders and Contractors and its signature collectors with their vow to re-start the petition process.

Now, having filed the petition paperwork, the group's new deadline to collect the necessary 252,523 signatures is in April 2016. If sufficient signatures are collected -- and approved -- the prevailing wage repeal question goes before the Republican-run state legislature. There, the building trades have been lobbying a handful of moderate Republican lawmakers not to approve it.

If the legislature votes down the measure or passes on it, the prevailing wage repeal question goes to the voters as a statewide referendum in November 2016. State surveys indicate strong support for prevailing wage, and construction industry leaders have also publicly expressed support for the law.

Stick up for workers, Michigan! Say no to repealing prevailing wage!

  • Press Associates, Inc. contributed to this report.