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Idaho GOP Proposes Repeal of Long-Dead Prevailing Wage Law


February 16, 2011

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Idaho Republicans, joining the national wave of attacks on working people, are targeting construction workers by introducing a bill last month that would prohibit the use of prevailing wage rates on state and local projects. 

There is just one problem: Idaho repealed the state’s prevailing wage law – which sets required thresholds for worker pay on government-funded construction projects – 26 years ago.

Says Idaho Building and Construction Trades Council President Rod Fuger:

The ignorance is breathtaking. The GOP goes on about how prevailing wage makes Idaho uncompetitive, when we haven’t had it in effect in since 1985.

The bill – in addition to outlawing phantom wage rules – also prohibits the use of project labor agreements on government-projects.  PLAs are project-specific, pre-hire collective bargaining agreements.

It passed the state Senate by an overwhelming majority and is now being considered by the House.

The Idaho GOP is also going after union contractors. State Sen. John Goedde has introduced a bill that would prohibit signatory contractors from using union contributions to subsidize wages, a common practice that helps them submit more competitive bids.

Contractors and local unions found guilty could be fined upwards of $100,000.

Says Idaho State AFL-CIO President Dave Whaley:

It’s just an out-and-out-attack on unions.

Despite the anti-labor fury coming from the state legislature, less than 10 percent of Idaho workers are union members.


State Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has questioned the legality of both bills, warning that they could land the state in federal court.

Fuger says:

It flabbergasts me listening to some of these legislators go on about restrictive labor laws, when they don’t even know what laws are on the books in the first place. It is clear that this isn’t about business competiveness or budgets; it’s about promoting an anti-worker ideology first and foremost.


Photo used under a creative commons license from Flickr user jimmywayne.