Midwest labor: right-to-work, done; is wage law next target?

April 28, 2015

by Nick Novak

Originally published by The Washington Times.

It is no secret that the Midwest is at the heart of the labor reform movement in our country. First, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed comprehensive public-sector collective bargaining reform in 2011 – a move that has catapulted him to frontrunner status for the 2016 GOP nomination.

Then, Gov. Mitch Daniels, also a Republican, signed Indiana’s right-to-work law in early 2012, and that was quickly followed by passage of similar legislation in Michigan later that year. Wisconsin joined the fray once again this March to become the 25th right-to-work state in the country.

These are bold reforms that will have a great impact on the Midwest’s economy and the future of each state. However, lawmakers have signaled that they are not done just yet. In fact, Wisconsin and Michigan may be on the precipice of saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

How might they do this, you ask? The simple repeal of an archaic law known as prevailing wage would save both states in excess of $200 million.

Currently, all states are covered under the federal Davis-Bacon Act, which requires a prevailing wage for federally funded projects. But 32 states, including Wisconsin and Michigan, have their own version of the law at the state level.

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