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House backs cuts to some prevailing wages

By Collin Reischman

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House of Representatives approved a measure changing the way prevailing wages are calculated throughout the state by a vote of 91-65 today.

House Bill 409, sponsored by Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, would preserve the prevailing wages of Cass, Clay, Franklin, Lincoln, St. Charles, St. Louis and Jackson counties, while the prevailing wages of all other counties would be determined based on the state’s average weekly wage for such work, as determined by the Department of Labor.
Republicans who supported the bill argued that prevailing wages manipulated the market of construction by forcing companies to pay higher wages than necessary. Majority members called the union-established prevailing wages in these counties a “chokehold” and a “mutation” of the free market.
Democrats, as well as a small coalition of Republicans in districts with large populations of union members, opposed the bill claiming it would lower wages and decrease the quality of public works projects. Democrats held that such a law would also encourage out-of-state contractors to undercut local companies, ultimately hurting the local economy.
To contact Collin Reischman, email or via Twitter at @Collin_MOTimes.