Member's Press Release

Release Date: 02/04/2016
Contact: Senator John Unger at (304) 357-7933

John Unger

Unger Says Senate Repeal of Prevailing Wage A Move Toward Cutting Workers’ Wages

Charleston, WV - Today, the West Virginia Senate made yet another move toward cutting wages for hardworking West Virginians and opened the flood gates for low wage workers to take jobs away from West Virginians by voting through House Bill 4005 -- repealing prevailing hourly wages, according to one state Senator.

Senate Minority Whip John Unger, D-Berkeley, said while arguments are made for the free market, and letting it work in the Mountain State, lawmakers should focus on this free market in creating quality jobs with livable wages for West Virginians.

“I think what we need is good paying jobs in our state for West Virginians,” Unger said. “That should be our focus, and legislation should reflect that.”

Senator Unger said while the Republicans believe getting rid of the prevailing wage will help the state’s economy.

“This bill opens up a market where out of state contractors can come in and underbid our West Virginia contractors, it will artificially drive labor cost low, by using out of state, low paid workers.”

Senator Unger said that West Virginians should have the jobs created with state taxes and that money should stay in local communities to benefit our communities.

“Out of state money interests will come in with out of state low-wage workers to replace West Virginians in West Virginia jobs,” Unger said. “What a devastating effect this will have on West Virginia workers and families. What’s the ripple effect?”

Adding that it is problematic not knowing the fiscal impact of the bill, Senator Unger said the repeal of prevailing wage would likely have a negative impact on the state’s budget and on our local communities. Disappointed in the action, Senator Unger said legislation like repealing the prevailing wage will have a negative ripple effect throughout the community.

“Here's what we have going on in West Virginia, the out of state billionaires will continue to get richer off the backs of and at the expense of West Virginia workers while West Virginians work more for less,” he said.

Senator Unger said passing such anti-West Virginia workers legislation will only add to the problems threatening our state.

“With the issue of illegal immigration, this law will attract more illegal immigrants and out of state low wage workers to the state to take jobs away from hard working West Virginians,” Unger said. “Who really benefits from this? West Virginia businesses don’t and West Virginia workers don’t.”

A ten-year eight state study on Missouri prevailing wage conducted by the Department of Economics, University of Missouri – Kansas City found:

• Total new construction projects from 2003-2010 were 150,482; of which 22,107 were in non-prevailing wage states and 128,375 were in prevailing wage states

• Distribution of structure type (by percentage of projects) is essentially the same in prevailing wage states: dollar value of new construction was $57 million; total square feet of new construction was $335 million; and mean cost per square foot of new construction across all structure type was $170.78

• In prevailing wage states: dollar value of new constriction was $270 billion; total square feet of new construction was 1 billion; and mean cost per square foot of new construction across all structure types was $147.99

• Conclusion: the mean square foot cost of construction in prevailing wage states is $23.22 per square foot cheaper in prevailing wage states. There is no statistical difference in mean square foot costs across all types of construction for the period 2003-2010 for prevailing wage states versus non-prevailing wage state.

• Repeal and/or modification of prevailing wage laws will not result in substantial cost savings as claimed by prevailing wage law critics

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