It is Time to Go Back to the True Intent of the Prevailing Wage Law

The New York State Constitution requires prevailing rate be paid to workers on public works projects. This basic principle is intended to ensure that constitutional provisions protecting the labor rights of working men and women are respected and that taxpayer dollars are used to create meaningful jobs that build our communities and strengthen our economy. Over the years, the prevailing wage law has been misconstrued by the courts and others such that the law's original intent has been eroded.

Attempts to exempt projects that include private investment in publicly owned and/or financed facilities along with other distractions designed to deflect prevailing rate requirements have been worked into the process. This has created confusion and frustration for both workers and employers. It is time to go back to the true intent of the law which is why the New York State AFL-CIO supports a bill (A. 10141 S. 7861) that restores the purpose of the New York State Constitution and ensures all projects receiving taxpayer resources are defined as “public works.” This bill will stabilize local economies and ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used by unscrupulous contractors who exploit workers to drive down wages and undermine community standards. It will create additional apprenticeship opportunities helping working men and women obtain solid middle-class jobs in safer workplaces while ensuring quality workmanship on public projects. There is time in this legislative session for our leaders to do what is right for working people and the taxpayers of this state. This bill is good public policy that will benefit all New Yorkers. Mario Cilento, President