Several Ohio lawmakers targeted Prevailing Wage in their latest anti-union attack, but opponents of the legislation believe H.B. 78 will not make it out of committee.
House Bill 78, which is primarily sponsored by State Reps. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance) and Susan
Manchester (R–Lakeview), proposes to give local governments, special districts, college and universities the ability to opt out of paying Prevailing Wage on construction projects. It also contains language to increase the threshold to enact Prevailing Wage on new building projects. If passed, the current threshold of $250,000 would be increased to $500,000.
Riedel has expressed some doubt about his bill’s success. In an interview with The Plain Dealer, he admitted it will be difficult to get his legislation passed.
“The odds probably are not real good that we’re going to have a lot of success with this in this particular General Assembly,” Riedel said.
Ohio’s union construction industry has spent years educating members of the General Assembly on the importance of Prevailing Wage and other issues essential to the industry and their affiliated members.
Efforts by the union construction industry to educate elected officials have included tours of various training centers and discussion about the building trades apprenticeship model, which does not rely on tax breaks or taxpayer money.
Their work appears to have paid off, as House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) told The Cincinnati Enquirer at a Feb. 19 event that he believes H.B. 78 takes the state in the wrong direction.
“This is just backwards of where we should be as a state,” Householder said. “We should try to encourage more people to get involved in the skills, and by reducing wages on skilled workers, I think we’re defeating the purpose of trying to get out and want those types of jobs.”
Prior attacks against Prevailing Wage in 2017 and 2018 both stalled in committee, and this year’s
bill appears to be heading for a similar fate.
House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) told The Plain Dealer this new attack on Prevailing Wage, like prior efforts, will not succeed.
“I think the overwhelming sense from the citizens of the state of Ohio is that Prevailing Wage is a good thing – that you should pay people for the work that they’re doing, and we should not continue to encourage income disparities by allowing large companies to nickel-and-dime its employees,” Sykes said.