May 2011

Oregon Local Saves Prevailing Wage in Eugene
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Salem, Ore., Local 280 Business Manager Tim Frew knew that the majority of construction projects done in Lane County were done union, but the state Bureau of Labor Industries told a different story.

"The state said that our signatory contractors were doing less than 50 percent of the work, which we knew wasn’t the case," he says.

The 50 percent cutoff is vital, because county prevailing wage rates are based on the wages and benefits offered by the contractors with more than half the market share, putting the local in danger of having future wage rates dictated by nonunion contractors.

"It would drag down pay for all construction workers, union and nonunion," Frew says.

The county is home to the state’s second largest city, Eugene, making it a major source of work.

So Local 280’s staff got busy, following up with signatory contractors to make sure they got their surveys in.

"Some of the smaller outfits hadn’t done their paperwork while others, particular those [based] outside Oregon, never got the survey from the state," Frew says.

After weeks of shuffling papers and numerous phone calls, Local 280 was able to convince state officials that they had done most of the work in Lane County.

"We were bulldogs about it, but we had to be in order to make sure that construction workers in Oregon can count on decent wages and benefits in the future," Frew says.