Nevada's new labor commissioner has announced a series of hearings which will heavily impact the way prevailing construction wage rates are set on public works jobs. The hearings begin on April 25 and will continue as long as necessary.
In a copyrighted story, veteran Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter A.D. Hopkins wrote "Nevada Labor Commissioner Terry Johnson has proposed amending Nevada's prevailing wage regulations, redefining 'prevailing' wage as that earned by an actual majority of workers in a given craft. If no such majority existed, an average wage would be used.
"The changes could blunt criticism of a law widely perceived to inflate the cost of public buildings and unfairly favor union labor," Hopkins reported.
That criticism has come from non-union contractors, Republican lawmakers and the Review-Journal. The state's largest newspaper recently called for repeal of Nevada's prevailing wage law.
Access the full story and hearing schedules at Labor official proposes prevailing wage reforms - A redefinition of what workers should be paid to do a job is needed, the labor commissioner says.
The Assault on Nevada Wages
Las Vegas Review-Journal calls for repeal of Nevada Wage Law; smears labor with criminal innuendo
Davis-Bacon will now certainly be a campaign issue this year. The state's largest paper just made it that way (see below).
I reiterate my suggestion that a working group be formed to work on this issue throughout this election year. Immediate research needs to be done to cross-check the Review-Journal's allegations, which have been repeated all over the state. We are not now in a position to properly respond, as we don't have the data upon which their allegations are based. Both the media and political candidates at all levels need accurate information, timely and consistently supplied.
Neither major media nor state government are proving to be our friends. We have also taken a hit on another front. The State of Nevada's Commission on Economic Development's new website states the following under its "workforce" section: "Right-to-Work -- Nevada's right-to-work laws prevent the establishment of 'closed shop' policies. Nevada currently has about 3.8% unionization in its manufacturing sector."
This conveniently ignores a fact which we have never promoted, but should from this day forward: NEVADA IS THE SEVENTH MOST-UNIONIZED STATE IN THE COUNTRY. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, our percentage of unionized workers stands at 19.6%, behind only New York (25.3%), Hawaii (23.1%), Michigan (21.5%), Washington state (20.7%), Alaska (20.4%) and New Jersey (20.3%). California is back in the pack at 16.5%. (See the AFL-CIO website.)
EDITORIAL, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Attack on Nevada prevailing wage law intensifies
Last Friday, 3/25, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published an extensive front page story alleging that errors in the Nevada prevailing wage survey "may" be costing taxpayers millions. The disclarity of the story notwithstanding, the state's largest paper spread a story over three pages about inaccuracies in wage rates at the expense of taxpayers.
Errors in calculating the "prevailing wage" for state and local public works projects may be costing taxpayers millions of dollars this year, the Review-Journal has discovered.
Prevailing wage rates published by the Nevada State Labor Commission are as much as $13.69 an hour higher than can be justified by survey data on which the wages are supposed to be based...
The Associated Press condensation which went to the rest of the state may be viewed at the Carson City Nevada Appeal's website.
In the much longer Review-Journal story, freshman Nevada State Assemblyman Robert T. Beers, R-Las Vegas, attacks the prevailing wage law. This seems to be a growing trend among GOP lawmakers. The Review-Journal article, and its dissemination by the Associated Press and thence to radio and television, threaten to make it a major campaign issue.
Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Minden, telegraphed the punch several months ago in an e-mail exchange with me which is posted at Sen. Joe Neal's website.
Mr. Hettrick lists prevailing wages along with education cuts as ways to shave the state budget.
That's not all.
On March 24-25, both the Las Vegas Sun and Review-Journal ran stories about federal judge Philip Pro's dismissal of a lawsuit to stop the labor commissioner from enforcing the prevailing wage law. The issue involved whether or not workers performing off-site fabrication should be covered. It may still end up in state court.
The LVRJ story was also written by veteran reporter A.D. Hopkins, who seems to be on the prevailing wage law beat.
The Sun's version was by an even more experienced writer, capital bureau chief Cy Ryan.
Dan Rusnak of Laborers' Union Local 169 notified me of last Friday's latest cannonade by the state's largest paper. I told him I would spread the alarm to my labor lists, along with a strong suggestion that a working group be formed to work on this issue this election year.
Any and all inputs are welcome. Please keep an eye on this site for late developments.
Be well. Raise hell.
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