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Minnesota State Prevailing Wage Certifications 2018-2019

Happy New Year  – This is Our Annual Review of Minnesota State Prevailing Wage Basics 

  1. Each year new prevailing wage rates are certified by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MnDLI).  These are the wages to be paid on state-funded construction projects.
  2. All project contracts for state-funded projects should include prevailing wage rates.
  3. Rates are divided up into three classes of construction: Highway/Heavy, Commercial (Building), and Residential Construction. Residential rates are not published online and need to be requested from MnDLI.
  4. Highway /Heavy and Commercial rates can be checked online by clicking here.
  5. Unlike Federal rates, state rates are broken down by 208 different labor codes.
  6. The prevailing wage rate is the most frequently reported wage in the survey for a labor code.
  7. If a prevailing wage rate is a union rate, it will escalate with changes to the CBA.
  8. All unions are notified by MnDLI in July of each year to submit their updated CBAs.
  9. The current published rates are based on wage surveys submitted for work between April 2, 2017 and June 1, 2018.
  10. Once rates are certified you have 30 days to identify and contact MnDLI with requests for corrections. Email requests are sufficient and can be sent to Karen.Bugar@state.mn.us .
  11. Stay current with all the prevailing wage updates and survey deadlines by subscribing to receive email notifications.  Click here to subscribe to notifications.


Highway/Heavy Wage Rates 2018 – 2019

On November 14, 2018 Highway/Heavy wage rates were newly certified.   Two things unique about Highway/Heavy rates are:

  1. These rates are set for each of Minnesota’s 10 regions.
  2. The minimum project size is $25,000.

There were 19,656 employees reported for the 2018 survey as compared to 19,009 the previous year. The certified rates are based on the most frequently reported wage rates by region. These rates are usually published in late October or November and take effect until the next survey is collected and analyzed and new rates certified the following October or November.

Commercial Wage Rates 2018 – 2019

On December 17, 2018 Commercial wage rates were newly certified. These are certified by county and project size must be at least $2,500. These rates are generally certified in December and stay in effect until the next certification the following December.

This year there were 60,274 employees reported state-wide as compared to 56,023 the previous year.

Summary

  • It’s important to submit surveys in order to get an accurate picture of what is paid in each county or region for each labor code.
  • All interested parties should be familiar with the current wage rates and how to find them.
  • Check our website at fcfmn.org and go to Resources to find many useful Minnesota construction-related websites, including those related to prevailing wage.
  • Call Adam or Gary at 651-797-2726 if you have questions.
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Twin Cities IBEW EWMC Gives Back, 2018

Giving is the hallmark of the Christmas/Holiday Season. Union people don’t wait until Christmas to help their communities though; they do it year-round.

A case in point was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) International Day of Service 2018 this November. A group of electricians representing the the IBEW’s Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) took time on a Sat., Nov. 17, to help out two groups in the Twin Cities.

IBEW Local 110’s Mike Roberts, President of the group’s minority caucus in St. Paul, joined with fellow workers at Conway to not only fix the fixtures but do some painting as well. “I have been blessed. So, for me personally, I think I should give help others out,” Roberts said. Added Chico Marino, the Vice Chair of the Minority Caucus in St. Paul, “The IBEW’s Minority Caucus has been around for 45 years. It’s been a great way for us to become part of the communities where we live.”

In Minneapolis Local 292 installed brand new LED lighting in Little Earth’s gymnasium. “We picked Little Earth because we want to get a recruiting foothold in the Native American community by showing our support for them. We hope we can show them a profitable lifestyle in the trades as a profession is achievable for them,” explained JaCory Shipp, President of Local 292 Minority Caucus. 

“They fixed our gym, which is also our community room. It is the heart of our community at Little Earth. We play basketball in there, hold our Christmas parties in there — everything!” Jolene Jones, President of the Little Earth Residents Association, said. “We needed new lighting in there for a long time. Now, thanks to them, we’ve got it!”

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Tribal Nations & Minnesota Building Trades Partner to Develop Apprenticeship Readiness

Over the last year, six Tribal Nations and the Minnesota Building Trades have piloted a new apprenticeship readiness program to prepare tribal members to enter the union construction industry. The first class of 15 students graduated on June 15, 2018 and many have already been accepted into full-fledged apprenticeship programs.

This 12-week course introduces students to the work of 11 different construction trades, including carpentry, sheet metal, electrical, general construction labor, plumbing & pipefitting, roofing, masonry, bricklaying, heavy equipment operation, and ironwork. Students welcomed the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with multiple crafts, allowing them to explore and find the trade best suited to their interests.

The program also incorporated tribal customs and cultural learning appropriate for the tribes involved, which included: the White Earth, Leech Lake, Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, and Mille Lacs Annishinabe reservations and the Upper Sioux Dakota community. The program hired to Five Skies, LLC out of Black RiverFalls, Wisconsin, to serve the role of understanding each tribal partner’s needs.

Other partners include the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development, which provided grant funding, private contractor donations, and in-kind donations from the Building Trades unions.

While this first class was a pilot program, everyone involved is optimistic about the future of the program.  Click here to read more about this program.

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A Concrete Christmas at the Local 633 Apprenticeship School

New Brighton, Minn. (Dec. 1, 2018) — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — especially at the Local 633 JATC (Joint Apprenticeship Training Center) where future cement masons and plasterers are honing their skills in New Brighton. For the seventh consecutive year, the apprentices of Cement Masons, Plasterers & Shophands Local 633 have built a Christmas exhibit replicating areas of a small city in their warehouse-sized work area . Last year’s exhibit featured an ice skating rink and a gigantic statue of the Stanley Cup in one corner along with a replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the other to salute Super Bowl LII — all done with colored concrete. This year’s exhibit features a small house built by the plasterers of Local 265, a mini golf course and a roundabout built by the cements masons of Local 633. All of the structures are tinted and toned with the colors and shades of the Holiday Season.

Not only does the exhibit show the artistic nature of what can be done with concrete and plaster, but it has an educational function as well. The apprentices get practical hands on training by doing it. “We are trying to replicate everything MnDOT will prescribe as paving work you’d see in the metro area such as the four types of curbs — B curb, D curb, S curb and V curb — plus the water drains. This year we decided to put a golf putting green in the B curb!” explained Brian Farmer, Apprenticeship Coordinator of Local 633 Journeyman and Apprentice JATC Training Center. “Everything we are doing here has a real world application.”

The exhibit will be open to the public for two days, Monday Dec. 3 and Tuesday Dec. 4, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Anyone who wants to come is asked to bring or drop-off a non-perishable food item (such as canned soup and vegetables, pasta, etc.) for Food Group, a local food shelf, from New Hope.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE RELATED VIDEO

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An Examination of Minnesota’s Prevailing Wage Law

This is a prevailing wage study completed in May 2018 that examines the effects of Minnesota’s Prevailing Wage Law on costs, training, and economic development.  The study was authored by Frank Manzo IV, M.P.P. from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute and Kevin Duncan, Ph.D, BCG Economics, LLC and Professor of Economics, Colorado State University-Pueblo

Click here to read the complete study.

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Missouri Voters Defeat Right To Work Proposition

Missouri Voters Defeat RTW

On Tuesday, August 7, voters in Missouri went to the polls to vote in the state’s primary for November’s election. On the ballot was a referendum on whether Missouri should become the next ‘right-to-work’ state, known as Prop A.

The legislature initially approved the law in February 2017, but labor unions collected more than 310,000 petition signatures, which forced the law to be decided by popular referendum. At the close of the 2018 session, the legislature changed the referendum date from the November election to the August primary, in an attempt to stifle voter turnout, which tends to be smaller for primaries.

Nevertheless, Missouri voters ultimately opposed the law by a more than 2-to-1 margin, preventing ‘right-to-work’ from taking effect. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, voters in both urban and rural areas opposed Prop A, with only 14 of 114 counties voting in favor. Missourians previously rejected ‘right-to-work’ in 1978, with 60% of voters opposing the law at that time.

However, the successful rejection of ‘right-to-work’ in Missouri did not come without cost. Three campaign funds that supported Prop A raised nearly $6 million, while labor unions and affiliated organizations raised more than $16 million to oppose the law. The opposing campaigns drew national attention, including a viral radio ad by actor John Goodman, a Missouri native and union member.

Nonetheless, with the Missouri legislature still firmly in Republican control, it is possible the battle over ‘right-to-work’ is not over, but simply on hold until the next legislative session.

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Another One Bites the Dust In Michigan

Michigan Repeals Prevailing Wage

On June 6, Michigan became the 6th state in the last three years to repeal its Prevailing Wage law. The repeal was originated and pushed by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC). It began as a citizen-driven petition that required 250,000 signatures to send the repeal bill to the state legislature. The citizen petition process bypasses the governor, and can be decided either by the Legislature or the Legislature can choose to send the proposal to voters directly. In this case, the Legislature chose to pass the repeal itself. Several people tried to save the law, including every Democratic legislator and several Republican lawmakers. But they didn’t have enough votes.

Prevailing Wage prevents erosion of construction industry standards by requiring contractors on public construction projects to pay standard wages and benefits for the geographic area. These laws originated in the 1890s to foster development of state construction industries and enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, with 41 states and the federal government implementing Prevailing Wage by the 1970s.

Proponents of repeal claim it will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The savings are expected to come directly from the wages of the construction workers who currently earn Michigan’s prevailing wages. These wage victims are the non-union construction workers who usually work for… you guessed it, Contractors in the ABC.

Opponents of repeal say that it will erode safety and training standards and hurt the construction industry’s ability to attract and retain skilled workers.

Evidence, Not Ideology

When deciding matters of public policy, information matters. However, the evidence presented by opposing sides on an issue like Prevailing Wage is often treated as equally valid by the media, even if there are significant methodological and analytical differences.

In this case, the information cited by Protecting Michigan Taxpayers—the ballot committee that gathered signatures for repeal—was a 2013 study by the Anderson Economic Group,  which found that Michigan overspent on education construction by $224 million per year from 2002-11. However, a report by Peter Philips, Professor of Economics at the University of Utah, found serious flaws with the Anderson Group study, including miscalculating the proportion of project costs taken up by blue-collar labor, and failing to account for decreases in worker productivity associated with falling wages and benefits. Prof. Phillips then applied the Anderson Group’s own methodology to more correct information and found that Prevailing Wage repeal would not have any cost savings.

Recent evidence from Prevailing Wage repeals in West Virginia (2015) and Indiana (2015) find no cost savings associated with repeal. In fact, the only real consequences of repeal have been significant declines in construction worker wages and benefits, increasing numbers of out-of-state contractors doing taxpayer-funded construction, and decreasing the quality of construction.

Prevailing Wage is Good for Minnesota Taxpayers

At its core, Prevailing Wage is a matter of public policy. It affects the health and vitality of a critical sector of the economy and prevents destabilization of the construction market by big infusions of government spending. While there are conflicting narratives about the impact of Prevailing Wage, the preponderance of peer-reviewed and methodologically rigorous research lead to an inescapable conclusion: Prevailing Wage is good for taxpayers. It does not affect overall project costs, and in fact has many positive consequences, including increased worker training and productivity, decreased reliance on public assistance programs among construction workers, and economic stimulus resulting from public construction wages staying within communities.

When spending taxpayer dollars on construction, we should demand that they maximize the benefits to communities, and Prevailing Wage ensures that happens.

 

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