Skip to comments.Bush order likely means lower wages for rebuilding (Union leaders angry)
Posted on 09/15/2005 12:57:49 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
SOME Houstonians who plan on moving to Louisiana and points east to get work in the Katrina rebuilding effort may discover their wages won't be as high as they might have expected.
That's because President Bush signed an executive order last week rescinding the rule that contractors on projects receiving federal money pay the prevailing wage in areas damaged by the hurricane.
"It's so important to have decent wages for these workers," said John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO. Sweeney visited the hurricane relief efforts in Houston and met with union leaders earlier this week.
Without it, he said, contractors will try to get away with paying the least amount they can, the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.
"It's taking the low road," the union leader said.
The rule governing the prevailing wage the average wage paid to workers in a specific trade in a certain geographic area is supported by labor unions and other workers' rights organizations because it typically brings wages closer in line to union wages, which usually are higher than nonunion wages. Businesses oppose the prevailing wage because it pushes up costs and limits the number of workers they can hire. Lifting the rule will make the "unprecedented amount of federal assistance" go further and allow more workers to be hired, according to the president's order.
Union leaders angry
Labor union officials were outraged. Sweeney recalled how Bush tried to rescind the prevailing wage scale shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But a group of congressional, labor and business leaders got together to beat back that effort.
But there's not a lot of bipartisan support this time, Sweeney said.
"I think it's a great idea," said Randy Magdaleno, chairman of the Hispanic Contractors Association of Houston, who was pleased with the president's order.
"It's less paperwork," said Magdaleno, who is also president of Frontier Contractors and is thinking of going to Louisiana to bid on some of the work. "People can actually get to work."
Overall, construction wages will probably fall, he said. But on the flip side, contractors will probably hire more people.
In Harris County, the prevailing wage for a journeyman electrician is $22.05 an hour plus $7.93 an hour for benefits, according to the Department of Labor. In Orleans Parish, the prevailing wage for the same job is $22.09 an hour and $6 in benefits.
Prevailing wages were first imposed during the Depression to prevent an influx of federal money from depressing local wages.
Republicans have wanted to do away with prevailing wages for a long time, said U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston.
"They have been trying to eliminate the prevailing wage, and I don't want them to use this disaster as an excuse," Green said. "I'd hope a lot of the people hired from the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama areas would be paid a decent wage to get back on their feet and rebuild their communities."
Green said he is supporting the bill filed earlier this week by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., to reinstate the prevailing wage. But he doubts the bill will even get a hearing from the Republican-dominated House.
The only real hope to undo what the president has done, Green said, is to attach Miller's bill to other legislation.
Health care affected
The effect won't just be less money jingling in the pockets of those who are installing new roofs, running electrical wire or welding pipes together.
Taxpayers will end up footing much of the bill in a roundabout way, according to E. Dale Wortham, president of the Harris County AFL-CIO and a board member of the Harris County Hospital District.
With the requirement suspended for contractors to pay for employee benefits such as health insurance, many of the construction workers will end up at public health facilities when they get sick or injured.
In the end, Wortham believes it will be the contractors who will win.
Sleezy unions, looking to profit on this fiasco.
THERE IS NO PREVAILING WAGE in a city with no citizens.
LOL......I am just tired enough for that to make sense to me!
tell mr. sweeney to set up a picket line, i know a good spot in new orleans by a broken levee...
In the end, Wortham believes it will be the contractors who will win.
In the end, taxpayers will end up footing much of the bill . At the end of the day, it's the taxpayers who will win.
Unions are corrupt organizations who do not benefit their workers by bringing reasonable and safe working conditions like the early 20th century. San Diego has been hard hit by union's invasive and destructive involvement in politics. They're driving the city into bankruptcy with "illegal" pensions. At the state level, they've stolen hundreds of millions from member's paychecks to assault Arnold's attempts in saving California from turning into another Democrat socialist wasteland.
I want a bill sent to Rep. Jefferson.
Congressman Jefferson Must Resign
by Jennifer Monroe
NEW ORLEANS, LA -- (OfficialWire) -- 09/15/05 -- On September 2five days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast Congressman William Jefferson (shown here), who represents New Orleans and is a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, asked the National Guard that night to take him on a tour of the flooded portions of his congressional district. A five-ton military truck and a half dozen military police were dispatched.
According to Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard, during the tour, Jefferson asked that the truck take him to his home on Marengo Street. According to Schneider, this was not part of Jefferson's initial request.
While many of Jefferson's constituents and fellow-citizens were dying, the water unfortunately reached to the third step of the Congressman's house and so the vehicle pulled up onto the front lawn of his home so he wouldn't have to walk in the water. The eight-term Democratic congressman then went into the house alone, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour.
According to an ABC News report, Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, three suitcases, and a box about the size of a small refrigerator, which the enlisted men loaded up into the truck.
Jefferson must resign immediately. There is simply no excuse for any elected official to have used public resources (intended to save lives), to retrieve personal possessions, while people he is supposed to represent suffered and died.
How much did unions spend on the 2004 elections? How much have unions donated to the victims of Katrina?
Union talk for we want free reign for pay-without-work and every other scam we're famous for. That's what "decent wages" means to the connected Sweeney and the rest of the union scum.
Unions have become an expression of corrupt socialism in the U.S.
No wonder they vote as a block Democratic.
As I stated in the previous post, Democrat elitist really don't care about their people. What they do care about is to be much, much better than them and to represent (pimp) them for their (the elitist) benefit.
"Union leaders angry
Labor union officials were outraged."
You mean they might withhold their support for Republicans in the future? Goodness. Give in to their demands we must.
That might fall some, but not to the $5.25 minimum wage. The market will guarantee that. There are fewer electricians than shovel monkeys and they'll need scads of them for all the buildings needing to be rebuilt or rehabbed.
F! the unions.
Workers have a choice to accept the offered wage rate or not. The market (supply/demand for labor) will ultimately determine a fair wage.
If enough workers decide $5.15 is too little, it will force the contractor to offer more attractive wages to get the required amount of worker.
Simple supply/demand economics.
I believe the prevailing wage in NO is around $9.00 per hour, or $18k per year if my math is correct.
For better or worse, unions brought about the modern 40 hour workweek and other things that would be quite strange and wonderful to someone stepping out of the 19th century into today's world. Unions that go too far nowadays don't need to be killed; they will effect their own suicide.
Well to be a class act he should have told the guys to go save some people while he packed, then come back in an hour and get him and his stuff. But I can't blame him for retrieving the material if it was gummint business. At that point nobody knew if there were going to be more levee breaks and even higher flood waters.
So, what's your opinion on unions?