SB 493 Setting of prevailing wage for trades

Signed into Law by Gov Brown on May 26, 2021
Status (overview) of bill:

This bill changes how the prevailing wage for trade or occupation in a locality is set to be the highest rate of wage among collective bargaining agreements for trade or occupation in locality.

Personal Choice and Responsibility
Prevailing wages for public construction rolls over into private job raising the cost of living.

Fiscal Responsibility
Oregon School Boards Association says, “if this bill passes and becomes effective, we expect wages to increase. These eight districts going out for a bond now may find themselves short of funds to complete projects. Again, these schools have done their due diligence up front, including some escalation factors to account for trends in materials and wage rates. If there is a wage spike caused due to these bills, referenced as results of similar legislation in Washington state, these projects are going to have problems.” Legislature will paint taxpayers into a corner. Public infrastructure will be in demand, but if the prevailing wage is always tied to the highest collective bargaining agreement, the price of the infrastructure will continue to outpace government budgets. Taxpayers will have to cover the additional expenses whether they want to or not.

Limited Government
Currently, prevailing wage is set by what is called an independent wage survey that is done across 14 regions in Oregon. Washington adopted this bill a couple of years ago, and their government affairs director of Associated General Contractors pointed out that one contract representing less than 13% of the total operator hours in the region was able to dictate wages for the other 87%. The result of tying prevailing wages to the highest collective bargaining agreement in the region destroyed the concept of prevailing wages, because “prevailing” implies some sort of prevalence. If Oregon follows in Washington’s footsteps, expect similar results.

Local Control
It would totally change how the prevailing wage is calculated and put cities and counties, school boards and any current project at risk and reduce future projects.

Free Markets
Independent Contractors and Unions have worked together in deciding the prevailing wages. This makes Collective bargaining the method unless a collective bargaining agreement does not exist in a locality.

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