Warnings about increased taxpayer costs of the 2016 repeal of West Virginia’s 1933 prevailing wage law come true as construction quality problems mount at two Fayette County schools.

Construction quality problems have piled up on the Collins Middle School and Oak Hill Pre-Kindergarten schools in Fayette County, according to a report published this month by West Virginia’s Affiliated Construction Trades. Both projects were awarded to lowest-bid general contractor, Radford and Radford Inc., and scheduled for completion by June 30, 2019 ($7,253,900 for the Collins general-trades package, $6,420,000 for Oak Hill). 

Days before the completion date, projects architect ZMM rejected several components of the new facilities – including concrete flooring, masonry veneers, and ceiling tiles. Among the poor quality construction cited by ZMM:

  • “crazing cracks that are indicative of failure to meet specification”;
  • floors failed due to non-compliance with uniformity of surface finish, exposed aggregate, and color;
  • failed subsurface preparation in violation of specification requirements resulting in “settlement cracking”;
  • “lack of protection of the polished concrete floors ruin(ing) many areas of the floor”;
  • “masonry veneer installed at the PK-2 school does not meet the benchmark standards of the mock-up nor the construction documents”.

After ZMM’s initial quality complaints, more problems arose in September. The general contractor’s mock-up on exterior masonry caulking was rejected by the architect and, “as a result of this unfinished work, water infiltration has occurred at the exterior canopies which has damaged the interior drywall.”

ZMM further noted “brown spotting on ceiling tile” that would require the full replacement of both material and labor.

Paul Breedlove, business manager of the Charleston Building Trades called the level of quality issues and rejection in the two school projects “unprecedented in West Virginia.”

“It is only since the repeal of prevailing wage that we have seen problems of this magnitude,” Breedlove added. In May 2019, the Midwest Economic Policy Institute released The Impact of Repealing West Virginia’s Prevailing Wage Law, a detailed study of the economic effects on the construction industry and the fiscal effects on school construction costs in West Virginia.Ohio Prevailing Wage Impact on Economy

Last year, the opening of Chapmanville Intermediate School in Logan County was delayed and plagued with additional costs due to faulty construction and OSHA violations resulting from the hiring of lowest-bid, non-prevailing wage contractors.

“We have tracked every project since the prevailing wage law has been repealed,” said ACT West Virginia Director Steve White. “(We) can say with certainty that there has been zero savings to taxpayers as a result.”

To read economic analyses and learn more about the impact prevailing wage repeal has had on West Virginia Building Trades workers, visit WVBrokenPromise.com.

Follow this link to learn more about prevailing wage in Ohio

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