Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty today criticized a state House measure that would lower wages for working-class men and women. House Bill 1538, sponsored by York County Republican Rep. Ron Miller, would allow political subdivisions to exclude themselves from prevailing wage laws.
“This kind of legislation sends the wrong message to the hardworking men and women who drive our economy,” McGinty said. “Make no mistake—you get what you pay for and doing projects on the cheap means significant safety and quality issues will arise.”
Prevailing wage laws discourage contractors from using cheap, unskilled labor by requiring contractors to pay local wages to their employees. Earlier this year, two other anti-prevailing wage bills (H.B. 665 and H.B. 796) were voted out of committee.
These three bills are now positioned for consideration by the full House.
According to the PA AFL-CIO, the bills “would allow contractors to low-ball bids and complete projects with unskilled and underpaid labor, while pocketing more of our taxpayer dollars as profits.”
In 2011, when PA Republicans first attempted to dismantle the state’s prevailing wage laws, labor economists Mark Price and Stephen Herzenberg of the Keystone Research Center released a policy brief summarizing research on the impact of these laws.
Price and Herzenberg concluded that repeal leads to “less workforce training; a younger, less educated and less experienced workforce; higher injury rates; lower wages; and lower health and pension coverage.”
McGinty has also recently proposed raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour, and tying future increases to cost-of-living adjustments.
“Under Tom Corbett’s leadership, our economy has floundered,” McGinty said. “We don’t need measures that cut wages. We should be focused on measures that create jobs and that put more money into the pockets of hard working Pennsylvanians.”