Ashton Marra Published

Bill to Scale Back Prevailing Wage Passes Senate


State Senators have approved a bill to scale back the state’s prevailing wage law and change the way it’s calculated.

A bill that would have repealed the state’s prevailing wage completely was altered and then approved by senators on a final vote of 23 to 11 Thursday with only Democrats voting against it.

The approved version moves the calculation of the wage from the Division of Labor to Workforce West Virginia in conjunction with economists from West Virginia and Marshall Universities. The bill also requires a half a million dollar minimum cost on public improvement projects for the wage to kick in.

Democratic Senator Doug Facemire opposed the bill saying no one has provided him enough information about what the change would do to the wages of the dozens of union workers who packed the galleries during the floor session.

“Look up in them chambers, these people with coveralls on, work clothes. You reckon’ they think this is good,” he said during a floor speech.

“We don’t know what we’re getting ready to do to these people. Nobody has given me any kind of a figure that says what’ going to happen to these people. I don’t think that’s good government. I think that’s reckless government,” Facemire said.

Other Democrats remarked they would vote against the bill because no one knew for sure the effects the legislation would have on workers’ wages, but Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael said that’s true under the current system.

“It should be absolutely clear to everyone in here, we don’t know what the prevailing wage is going to be next year. It’s a survey method and it can change from year to year under the current system,” he said during his remarks.

“So, nobody in the balconies and nobody in here knows what the current rate, or what the rate for the prevailing wage will be next year under the current system.”

The bill now moves on the House where Speaker Tim Armstead said he expects intense discussion on the bill.