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Wisconsin legislature ponders construction wage and hour laws

State government is looking at ways to become more cost effective for big budget projects. Currently, the Wisconsin legislature is considering changes to prevailing wage and hour laws, citing imperfect methods of computing the prevailing wage. Proponents of the change argue that by repealing prevailing wage laws, tax dollar waste will be reduced and big budget state infrastructure projects will become more affordable. One recent news article comments on the wage issue in depth. 

The article mentions that wage repeal has been in progress since 2015, when prevailing wage laws were repealed for local government projects. A prevailing wage is the mean wage paid to workers for a particular job across the state. When a contractor wins the government bid for the job, the company agrees to pay workers the prevailing wage or that company will face penalties. 

The most recent proposed changes aim for state government projects. Low returns on wage surveys, with a high numbers of labor unions represented in the returned numbers, combined with a method of computing the mean by using only the top 51 percent, have resulted in higher than average prevailing wage numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Wisconsin prevailing wages are 35 percent higher than other states for comparable jobs. 

Right now the lawmakers in Wisconsin continue to ponder the repeals of the wage and hour laws. As the law is currently written, construction employees on state jobs are entitled to the state prevailing wage for their job. If a worker is currently not receiving the prevailing wage, he or she may wish to pursue a claim. Often, an attorney is helpful when gathering the information for one's employment law case. 

Source: heartland.org, "Research & Commentary: Wisconsin looks to complete prevailing wage repeal", Matthew Glans, July 27, 2017

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