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National Building Trades Department
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Important Issues

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Prevailing Wage Boosts Ohio’s Economy, Middle Class

A new study completed by professors at Bowling Green State University, Kent State University, Colorado State University, and the Midwest Economic Policy Institute confirms that Ohio’s Prevailing Wage law provides strong support for Ohio’s middle class and strengthens the state’s economy.  


The study reveals that weakening or replacing Ohio’s Prevailing Wage standards would not result in taxpayer savings, but would actually increase taxpayer burdens to offset the significant reductions in construction wages. The study concludes that in states without Prevailing Wage laws, construction workers earn 15% less, placing many below the poverty line; increasing reliance on entitlements like food stamps and Earned Income Tax benefits.


“Construction is a tough, competitive business, largely driven by market forces,” said ACT Ohio Executive Director Matthew Szollosi. “However,” Szollosi continued, “Wages and benefits amount to only 23% of overall project costs. The notion that significant savings can be derived by cutting workers’ pay is false.”


The analysis also details the negative impact of weakening and/or repealing Prevailing Wage laws with regard to veterans, who work in construction at higher rates than non-veterans.


Based on Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services’ records, the study finds that in 2015, 83% of Ohio’s construction apprentices graduated from building trades training programs – including 94% of female apprentices and 88% of minority apprentices. Further, the building trades and their signatory contractors contributed $1.75 billion in worker fringe benefits and training in 2015.


“The building trades invested nearly $50 million in training last year,” said Szollosi. “These are private dollars invested in workforce development by our members and contractors. We have opposed, and will continue to oppose, efforts that require taxpayers to subsidize construction apprenticeship training.”


Currently, the building trades have more than 80 apprenticeship training centers across the state, many of which have partnered with local community colleges. An analysis of other states within the study found that apprenticeship training falls by 40% after Prevailing Wage repeal. 


ACT Ohio strongly encourages our leaders to reject any legislative efforts to weaken or repeal Ohio’s Prevailing Wage laws.


“Attacks on Prevailing Wage will result in significant wage reductions for construction workers. The quality of taxpayer-funded work will decline, and the door will be kicked wide open for even more abuse of the system through the use of undocumented workers,” Szollosi said.




Columbus Mayor Praises Building Trades as Path to the Middle Class

 Elected officials and community leaders joined Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building & Construction Trades Council, for a Building Trades Open House on April 19. The event, which highlighted Ohio's apprenticeship programs and the opportunities they provide, was hosted at the Columbus Electrical Trades Center.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther spoke to those gathered to reiterate the city's commitment to the Building Trades. "There are many paths to the middle class," said Ginther, "and the Building Trades are a great option, and provide that path. They play a part in helping Columbus become America's Opportunity City."

Training Director Steve Lipster took the stage to emphasize the investment the Building Trades makes in its people. "The investment these trades make in their human capital is huge," said Lipster. "You'd have to look to the US Armed Forces to see another organization that invests as much."

Lipster noted that Ohio has built the second largest apprenticeship system in the United States - and that is no accident, he said. "Apprenticeship programs create the employees that employers are looking for."

Lipster also took time to remind those gathered about the importance of Prevailing Wage law on apprenticeship programs. "Your support of Prevailing Wage provides a pathway to the middle class." 




ACT Ohio Supports Passage of Bills Sustaining Ohio's Nuclear Energy Production

On April 5, 2017, Senator John Eklund introduced legislation that would help ensure the long-term capacity of Ohio’s two nuclear power stations. The Executive Board of the Affiliated Construction Trades has endorsed passage of the legislation.


“ACT Ohio has adopted an “all of the above” approach to energy production in Ohio. Our considerable annual investment in apprenticeship training allows our 94,000 members to support and maintain energy production through all sources including natural gas, coal, wind, solar and of course, nuclear,” said Executive Director Matt Szollosi.


“Those two nuclear power stations generate a significant percentage of the state’s energy. Our contractors and members built those facilities, and our workforce has derived tens of millions of work-hours maintaining them. The continued viability of those plants is a priority for us,” said Szollosi.

ACT Ohio Holds Training to Combat Contractors Who “Cheat to Compete”

On March 30, ACT Ohio and the National Alliance for Fair Contracting (NAFC) sponsored training for 50 affiliate representatives on strategies for holding contractors that cheat on public works projects accountable.  


Labor attorneys and educators Patty Gates and Nina Fendel presented “Dealing with Contractors Who Cheat to Compete: Taking the High Road.” The training focused on helping ACT Ohio members from around the state understand what should raise a red flag when reviewing submitted bids on public works construction projects. 

The training encouraged ACT Ohio affiliates get more involved earlier in the bidding process to ensure that all contractors are treated fairly.  

“ACT Ohio did such a quality job putting together the Fair Contracting Program,” said attendee Brian Collier, Field Representative for Bricklayers and Tile Setters Local 8. “I believe that attending was time well spent. I learned skills to benefit my members and the contractors that they work for. I also felt that the role playing aspect gave those present good pointers on how to approach public entities and what kind of reactions to expect from those entities.”


ACT Ohio works with its affiliates and regional councils to ensure that Ohio’s public bidding laws are followed to ensure the public is protected from unscrupulous contractors.  
“One of the central missions of ACT Ohio is to work with our members to ensure public bidding laws are followed.” Said ACT Ohio Legal Counsel Rob Dorans. “All contractors bidding on public works projects should follow the rules. I’m pleased so many of our members attended this training to learn more about how to use the resources of ACT Ohio to help to ensure that all contractors comply with basic bidding standards on public projects.” 


The training also focused on how to effectively work with public officials during the bidding process. The trainers helped facilitate simulations for ACT Ohio members to practice presenting information before public bodies. 


“Effectively working with public officials is key for ensuring that when our members uncover a red flag about a contractor bidding on a public project, that concern is taken seriously.” said Matt Szollosi, Executive Director of ACT Ohio.
ACT Ohio plans to hold future similar public works compliance trainings for its members that were unable to attend this first seminar. 



Federal Contractors No Longer Required to Disclose Violations During Bidding

On March 27, President Trump signed a resolution passed by Congress that nullifies the Obama administration's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order and implementing regulations. 

The order required federal contractors to disclose recent labor and employment law violations when bidding on a new contract worth at least $500,000. The signed resolution no longer requires disclosures of these violations and makes approval from Congress required for any “substantially similar” rules.


“Contractors that violate worker protection and wage and hour laws are stealing from working class Americans,” said ACT Ohio’s Rob Dorans. “The 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Executive Order promoted additional disclosure in federal contractors to ensure that contractors that cheat their workers and the American taxpayer faced extra scrutiny before being hired by the federal government again. It is disappointing to see this policy rolled back.”