Taxes, Prevailing Wage Laws & Violation of Public Trust

Posted in the Beaver Falls Forum

Fred Gross

Narberth, PA

#1 May 8, 2006
I am the owner of a small business which specializes in the assembly and installation of school lockers, mostly in Eastern and Central PA. From the start, let me say that I am the last and least paid of my crew of 5; a greedy owner I am not. I am writing to enlighten the tax-paying readers about an apparently little-known provision of PA (as well as some other states and the federal gov't) labor law, which provides for the payment of all workers at union scale, regardless of affiliation, on publicly funded projects exceeding $25,000 in value.

Because our busy season is during the summer (when students are not present) we have typically picked up summer help among the legion of unemployed students whose best opportunity for making summer money for college may pay $10 -$15/hour. Prevailing wage requires that as unskilled laborers these summer employees be paid over $30/hour (combined wage & benefits), and when doing any other task (that has typically been classified as carpenter) they receive nearly $50/hour (combined).

Recently there has been a movement by the sheet metal union to usurp locker installations (because the lockers are typically metal?), even though many installations in schools are now plastic, not to mention that sheet metal workers simply have no knowledge of this niche business, and obviously are trained in HVAC work specifically. The State's labor and industry department is supporting this absurd challenge which would increase our pay scale by over 20%, and in the process increase tax-payer costs a like amount (though as a business owner I would not be able to recover the additional cost on existing contracts - which would probably force me out of business).

Overall it has been conservatively estimated that prevailing wage laws increase the cost of school construction and renovation by 20% through the artificial escalation of wages.(Check out the Fall River, MA school project when you get a chance: www.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2006/03/27... ). We taxpayers have entrusted the government to protect our funds and expend them judiciously in the pursuit of the common good. In this case, the funds are being squandered for the purpose of (What else could it be?) re-election support from the construction unions. This takes the form of voting recommendations and significant donations to re-election campaigns.

You be the judge. Please, this is not about me, but rather I am providing my experience to help the public understand how our PA government has violated the trust we have given it. Only the voting public, with pressure from the school districts, can overturn these arcane prevailing wage laws. With educational funds so essential, it is literally a crime to allow the government to pick the pocket of each and every one of us.
Patrol

Toms River, NJ

#2 Nov 12, 2006
Fred is a confused man. He is constantly calling escorts when his mind should be on the job. The sheet metal workers should get the contracts.
Patrol

Toms River, NJ

#3 Nov 12, 2006
He has no discipline and the minute he feels foolish or incompetent instead of doing the right thing and working through it, he bails
SASCO

Garden Grove, CA

#4 Jun 30, 2007
Well said Fred.
It is a shame a man cannot be paid on merit and his own personal value, but instead gets lumped in with a large group of over-paid, undeserving individuals. The result is waste and overcharge to the purchaser, which when the market is given the chance, will destroy the very people it was legislated or "unionized" to protect. We only need to look at the auto industry as the latest example.

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