A petition filed with the Michigan Board of Elections by an anti-prevailing wage group appears to be dramatically short of viable signatures. Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, a right wing interest organization, had 180 days to collect enough signatures to submit the initiative to the Michigan Legislature for it to appear on the ballot.
Protect Michigan Jobs, a grass roots advocacy group that supports prevailing wage, filed a challenge yesterday, claiming that out of 388,000 signatures, only 221,000 (perhaps fewer) are valid. The Board of State Canvassers is now required to analyze the signatures to determine whether they are valid.
If the board determines that the signatures are indeed not valid, then the petition would fall short of the signatures required to put a taxpayer-initiated repeal of the prevailing wage law on the ballot. Around 252,000 signatures are needed to send the initiative to the legislature, which would have forty days to make a decision. If they fail to act, the initiative will become a ballot proposal in November 2016.
Prevailing wage laws require construction workers be paid a local wage and benefit rates on public construction projects to ensure fair competition and to support a highly skilled and trained workforce. Numerous peer reviewed studies over the past 10 years have concluded that prevailing wage does not drastically raise the cost of public construction and protects workers by employing contractors with better safety standards.
Protecting Michigan Taxpayers is the interest group behind this attempt to repeal prevailing wage law. According to campaign finance reports, the group has raised more than $1.5 million dollars with $805,000.00 originating from the Michigan Freedom Fund which is affiliated with the wealthy DeVos family. The DeVos family and the Michigan Freedom Fund supported ‘Right to Work is Wrong’ legislation in Michigan. Right to work laws hurt middle class families by limiting union’s ability to fairly represent workers.
Studies have shown that ‘Right to Work is Wrong’ laws drive down wages and negatively impact worker safety. A study conducted by The Economic Policy Institute found that in right to work states the annual wages for a typical full-time, full-year worker were $1,558 lower.
ACT Ohio will continue to follow this story as it develops, and we stand in support with our Michigan neighbors.