Boots & Sabers

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0943, 26 May 15

Assembly Hearing Scheduled for Repeal of Prevailing Wage

Bader’s reporting was right.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin state Assembly committee has scheduled a public hearing and vote Wednesday on a bill to repeal the prevailing wage.

I heard the committee chairman, Andre Jacque, on the radio this morning talking about it. He indicated that he called the hearing without the approval of Speaker Vos. So the leadership is still trying to kill this, but the conservatives in the caucus are rebelling.

Major kudos to Jacque and the conservative caucus. Let’s get this done!



0943, 26 May 2015


  1. Steve Austin

    And since we’ve got wall to wall conservative coverage pushing this, I need to voice my strong opposition to it once again.

    I’m conservative, don’t belong to a union and have no ties to construction industry. Frankly as a taxpayer, this bill would benefit me.

    But, unlike the desk jockey academics pushing this (Sykes, Sikma, etc) I’ve got a lot of experience with the construction industry nationwide. In the states without prevailing wage, I’ve seen a massive displacement of US tradesmen in exchange for illegal labor over the past 15-years. Massive.

    Every contractor in those States is looking for an edge and the default position is hire illegals and significantly lower your costs. In the meantime, the US carpenter decides if his option is $8 an hour to compete with an illegal or going into a different line of work, they choose a different line of work.

    What prevailing wage in Wisconsin does is act as an artificial price floor on projects. As a result, there are plenty of Wisconsin tradesmen to fill out these jobs. Once prevailing wage is repealed, the contractors will immediately move to gain cost advantages and the single largest edge a contractor today has is the use of illegals.

    When I tweet Sykes about this, all he responds with is “Straw man – Illegal labor is illegal”. He hasn’t however explained to me why there are literally MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of illegals working every day in the construction industry nationwide. Or provide a rebuttal regarding why we shouldn’t be concerned that immigration laws haven’t been enforced by Obama or for that matter the big money GOP chamber of commerce types who profit from the cheap labor.

    If this passes, there is no doubt in my mind that the illegal labor will quickly flood in. Wisconsin workers (voters) will be displaced. And further, the GOP bond with people who actually, you know, put in a hard day’s work to support themselves and their families will get eroded.

    At this point, PW in Wisconsin is a needed evil to protect our state and tradesmen against low cost competition from illegal workers. I have no problem paying for that given the stakes for our State, our workers and immigration laws. And who knows, perhaps the tax burden will actually be greater if we repeal PW, since we’ll need to provide all sorts of social service benefits for not only the displaced workers, but the new immigrants who replace them.

    I completely support Vos and others who are opposed to this measure.

  2. Owen


    Your conservative bona fides are unimpeachable, but I disagree with you. First, your personal experience notwithstanding, I can’t find any data to either support or refute your claim. Granted, we are looking at a very dynamic economic scenario. Do prevailing wage laws prevent illegals from participating in the construction labor force more than they otherwise would? Maybe. The prevailing wage laws in the 32 states that have them are varied in both their thresholds, enforcement, and calculation of the prevailing wage. And then there are the 18 states without any prevailing wage laws. When digging through the statistics on the percentage of illegal laborers in the construction industry as compared to the overall labor population by state and matching that to states with and without prevailing wage laws, the results are all over the map (ba dum dum). Given that I can’t find any reputable studies that prove a positive correlation between the lack of prevailing wage laws and illegal alien labor participation, I don’t think that much, if any, correlation exists.

    Second, even if such a correlation does exist, I oppose the prevailing wage laws on principle. As you state, the prevailing wage laws “…protect our state and tradesmen against low cost competition…” That maybe true, but it is pure protectionism. I support a free market where the natural market forces dictate the appropriate price of goods and labor instead of the government setting an artificial rate. There are always consequences to a free market and there will be winners and losers. But it is still the most efficient and fair way for prices to be set and resources to be allocated. 

    And you should know better… twitter is not an ideal medium for debate ;)

  3. Nashotah Conservative

    Let the free market decide. If repealing prevailing wage has the unintended consequence of displacing Wisconsin tradesmen, I expect 3 things to happen

    1) Tradesmen will probably change their voting allegiances
    2) The quality of work will decline
    3) Costs could potentially rise if fewer contractors are bidding on the work (due to fewer players being in the market).

    I, however, don’t see this happening. I see the tremendous potential for MAJOR savings for local government which should give us more money for police, infrastructure, schools, and tax relief.

    Sounds like a homerun to me

  4. SteveAustin

    I have no argument with either of you on the economic principle. Markets should decide prices. The problem is that both the GOP big business crew and the Democrats have decided that they will gladly accept a flood of low cost labor supply from south of the border. Until that stops, we aren’t dealing with a free market that is in our national interest. Wisconsin has had one moderate barrier to this flood of immigrant construction labor into our State and that is the presence of PW.

    As for having things correct themselves later if a problem, we’ve clearly seen that doesn’t happen with immigration. The people are here, obtaining benefits and depressing wages. The Democrats then move to claim this group as voters and now the status quo has changed and the toothpaste can’t go back into the bottle. Wisconsin moves from a newly minted red state and turns into Colorado, NC, VA, where you have enough Hispanics to now tip elections the other way.

    I noticed last night Sykes was tweeting out a letter that Joe Sanfellipo had issued that supposedly “settles” the issue that illegal immigrants won’t be a problem if we repeal PW.

    All that letter says is that the Federal government controls immigration issues and that employers must follow Federal law in the hiring or non-hiring of illegals.

    I’m not sure how Sykes or Joe can tout that with a straight face. How good a job has the Federal government done with enforcing these laws the last decade? Obama? President Hillary? In the meantime, the US Supreme Court a couple years ago affirmed in the Arizona immigration law debate the fact that States can’t regulate or enforce immigration laws, only the Feds. So even if Wisconsin tries to enforce citizenship requirements on public projects as it relates to repealing PW, we’ll have a court fight on our hands that we likely lose.

    This fight is absolutely foolish and economically and politically dangerous for the GOP. In my opinion, this is our sides version of the Tom Barrett Streetcar. On its face, it sounds great and fits our orthodoxy. From a practical matter, over the next 3-5 years it will end up costing us. ACT 10 was worth it. Not this.

  5. Mark Maley

    Steve gets it and the conservative academics , talk show hosts and bloggers whose entire memory of strenuous work is their last blister from a key board most certainly do not .

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