January 22, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Frankfort, KY- A bill that would exempt school and university construction from Kentucky’s prevailing wage law may pass the state Senate as early as Jan. 15.
Supporters of the bill claim that paying union-scale wages—in Lexington, $30.01 an hour for an electrician, $22.03 for a roofer—drives costs up by 20-30%, with absolutely no guarantee for better quality,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Wil Schroder. That’s not true, said Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO. Wages make up only about 20% of public-works costs, he explained, and when Kentucky tried exempting school construction from prevailing wage from 1982 to 1996, “all of these great savings proved illusory, and competition dried up.” New Gov. Matt Bevin, a Tea Party Republican, backs the measure, and it is expected to sail through the GOP-controlled Senate, but the Democratic-majority House has blocked similar legislation in the past. Read more