Prevailing Wage Comes at an Expense

Jan 6, 2017 by AFP

Veterans are heroes who deserve every chance to succeed in their civilian life, and that requires a thriving economy and ample opportunities to work when they’ve finished serving. Yet if you’ve been listening to the radio lately in Wisconsin, you’ve probably heard ads claiming that veterans’ success depends on the state setting a “prevailing wage” for certain construction projects.

We won’t question the integrity of the organizations making this argument, but the fact is that the prevailing wage actually hurts veterans and any other Wisconsinites, for that matter. It limits job opportunities and boosts pay for well-connected companies that work on government contracts while leaving everybody else with a higher bill.

Wisconsin adopted prevailing wages in 1933. The state prevailing wage law required most municipal and state government projects with costs over a certain threshold to pay contractors wages based on the so-called “prevailing wage.” More often than not, this calculation closely matches the rates paid to local unions, resulting in above-market costs for taxpayer-funded construction.

Continue reading the oped by Concerned Veterans for America’s Mark Lucas and AFP’s Eric Bott in the Post-Crescent.