Leave it to government to fix something that isn't broken.
The common council today voted 8-7 to pass the prevailing wage provision. The provision essentially says that any contractor that receives aid of a million or more, including tif districts, must pay their workers a "prevailing wage". A prevailing wage is the pay rate of the largest county, including benefits, as determined by the department of labor. Generally speaking, the rate is about the same as union scale.
Well, one would argue, that since Milwaukee is the largest county this really won't affect local contractors.
Wrong, lumber breath. Fact is, many, if not most contractors hire less expensive, non-union labor to stay competitive, which saves money. Many jobs on work sites are unskilled and simply don't rank being paid more than a certain amount. With the provision, though, all workers would have to be paid the prevailing wage, thus raising costs.
Another provision within the ordinance requires development firms to fill 40% of their project's construction jobs with unemployed or low-income Milwaukee residents
What? The wage provision is moronic enough. The extra provision makes this irresponsible. What about ability to perform the job? Competently? Safely? I guess those issues don't matter.
First, developers generally hire and pay pretty well. No one is getting minimum wage. No one has been complaining about a developer's low pay. There simply isn't a problem here.
Whether you agree with the provision or not, it will raise costs. And for no good reason other than government wants it that way. Contruction won't be better, won't be faster, won't be safer . . . in fact, you'll get nothing for the extra costs incurred. Add to that the extra provision of needing to hire low income or unemployed residents, and the provision becomes very problematic for Milwaukee developers.
In this time of recession, loss of jobs, and people lining up practically for miles for work, this is irresponsible. What's more, many developers were against this, and the MMAC was against this. Not surprisingly, the unions were for this. Tom, Mr. Jobs, Barrett was for this. Which really makes me question his competence.
Voting for the provision: Nik Kovac, Milele A. Coggs, Willie C. Wade, Joe Davis, Sr. Bob Bauman and Ashanti Hamilton, and, I believe, Michael Murphy. There's one more. I'll confirm names tomorrow.