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State GOP takes aim at prevailing wage in its weekly message

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The state GOP turns to a New Castle County non-profit to help makes its case to change the state’s prevailing wage system.

In the weekly GOP message, Friends of Bellevue State Park president Wilma Yu argues only a small percentage of businesses respond to the annual survey that sets the prevailing wage rate and so it doesn’t accurately reflect what workers are actually paid.

Yu says that has implications for projects groups like Friends of Bellevue take on.

"Every project Friends groups undertake over $15,000 is subject to an additional 30% in costs due to prevailing wage. Contractors give 2 bids, with and without prevailing wage; so employees have their normal competitive salary but get a bonus for state jobs," said Yu.

Yu adds prevailing wage rates are also unfair because they vary drastically between counties and labor categories.

She says a better system could save the state millions.

Full text of the weekly GOP message:

Hi, my name is Wilma Yu and I am President of the Friends of Bellevue State Park. 
 
I am concerned about the prevailing wage system because of how it affects non-profits. 
 
Delaware's prevailing wage law mandates what workers employed on public works projects – such as schools, roads, or state parks receive in compensation. It’s based on an annual survey sent to businesses which only a small percentage respond to, therefore, wages can be inflated and not necessarily be reflective of what workers are actually paid.
 
Every project Friends groups undertake over $15,000 is subject to an additional 30% in costs due to prevailing wage.  Contractors give 2 bids, with and without prevailing wage; so employees have their normal competitive salary but get a bonus for state jobs.  Friends gladly pay fair labor costs, but because labor in New Castle may be 2 to 4 times that of other counties, we can do far less.
 
No one opposes workers getting fair compensation for their skill and service but prevailing wage isn’t fair.  The Delaware Division of Labor shows that for the same trade, wages vary drastically between counties and the three labor categories, building, highway and heavy construction.  For example, prevailing wage for a boilermaker ranges from $31 to $72/hour; a sheet metal worker between $17 and  $63 and a glazier  $11 to $65/hour.  How does this disparity represent a true and fair prevailing wage?  
 
This is not a party issue, Republican vs. Democrats, it is a broken process that we need to fix.
 
A fair prevailing wage system could translate into millions of dollars in savings for state capital and maintenance projects.   We could close the current budget gap without raising taxes.  It’s time that our legislators work together and fix the egregiously flawed prevailing wage system. Thank you.