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Labor begins public push for prevailing wage
With state lawmakers preparing to begin debate of on one of the labor movement’s biggest issues, a group called Protect Our Local Wages is airing television ads in markets around the state hoping to sway public opinion on the controversial prevailing wage measure.
The ads make the case that changing the state’s labor law would help local businesses compete with outside firms when they are contending for public projects.
Iowa’s labor unions have pushed lawmakers to pass prevailing wage legislation for several years. It would require contractors to pay the same hourly wages and benefits on public projects as they would pay on private sector projects. The per-hour wage rate would be based on what is normally paid in the area by contractors for similar projects, to be adjusted on a yearly basis by the Iowa Department of Workforce Development.
Opponents, which include groups like the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Iowa Chamber Alliance, say the proposal would increase taxpayer costs by as much as 20 percent. Supporters, like the Iowa Federation of Labor, United Steel Workers of America and International Union of Operating Engineers, say the change would simply put state law in line with federal law.
The Iowa House will hold a public hearing tonight at 7:30 to discuss the proposal, which is currently in a subcommittee of the House Labor Committee. It is expected to be debated in the full House later this week.