Prevailing Wage Law: Yet Another Unfunded Mandate From The State

( – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

This story about Peabody’s trash contract illustrates to a T the detrimental effect the state’s prevailing wage law is having on municipal finances. It’s time for it to go.…

The state’s prevailing wage law is forcing Peabody to spend nearly $700,000 more than the city otherwise would have on a new five-year agreement with a trash hauler, according to city Finance Director Patti Schaffer.

Mayor Michael Bonfanti recently called the law “another detrimental, unfunded mandate” that sent cost-saving strides the city had made in its dealing with JRM Hauling & Recycling “right down the damn toilet.”

“We’re being held accountable for a contract in which we have no stake,” Schaffer said. “It makes no sense to me.”

JRM was selected out of four companies that responded, and Peabody was pleased with its new deal because it would have kept the city’s costs basically the same but substantially enhanced service, particularly recycling. Though the new contract is still to be signed, JRM has agreed to pick up residents’ home recycling every week, instead of every other week.

The new contract, however, triggered the prevailing wage adjustment. The law required Peabody to have the state set a wage and obligates JRM to pay it.

For Bonfanti, it’s another hurdle, in trying economic times, that the state has put before cities and towns.

“It’s unnecessary to spend this kind of money,” he said. “We can’t afford to do this stuff.”

About TLCWeld

Chairman, Reading Republican Town Committee
Constitutional Conservative
As a son of NH, I choose to Live Free or Die

  • and his guys get $15/hr regularly, but when they work on UMass Lowell projects it’s $45/hr. He stops being the boss and lays bricks himself the money is that good.

    It’s a terrible law and another example of the legislature not doing what is right for their cities and towns and repealing this. Oh course they never will because they need their union friends.

  • Bonfanti gets what he deserves. He endorsed Deval Patrick and now complains about union nonsense.

    From Deval Patrick’s website

    Governor Patrick Endorsed by North Shore Mayors

    Citing their commitment to rebuilding the economy, alternative energy and a commitment to citizens in all areas of the Commonwealth, the Patrick/Murray campaign was endorsed today by a group of mayors from the North Shore. The mayors include: Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer III, Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon Jr., Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday, Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti and Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll.

    •These leaders know that Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray are the best candidates to get Massachusetts back on its feet. They will join the Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s grassroots organizing efforts throughout the North Shore.

    •Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray share a strong commitment to our local communities and will continue to invest in education and our economy.

    •Republican Charles Baker and unenrolled candidate Tim Cahill will cut local aid to communities with their budget proposals. Baker’s proposal would cut $2.5 billion from the state budget which will have a direct impact on local aid. State treasurer Tim Cahill also supports cutting local aid.

    •The Patrick/Murray campaign was also endorsed by: SEIU’s State Council, the Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters, Massachusetts Clean Water Action, the Massachusetts NOW PAC, Oiste, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund, Neighbor to Neighbor, the MassEquality PAC, the Massachusetts Teacher’s Association, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Newton Mayor Setti Warren, Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti, and Lowell Mayor Jim Milinazzo.

    Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti

    “Peabody has had some flooding issues and one of the things that I have deeply appreciated is that the Patrick-Murray administration — Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray, and Secretary Bialecki — have been helping us to address those issues since taking office. We received a $2 million grant for flooding and another million and a quarter grant that helps in flooded areas. One of the things that I appreciate very much is that unlike with the prior administration, when we asked for help, the Patrick-Murray administration has helped us address these problems in a timely fashion — both financially and otherwise.”

    I love this one:

    •Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray share a strong commitment to our local communities and will continue to invest in education and our economy.

  • Private sector wages and benefits have withered in the last thirty years and now those squeezed are looking at the defined benefit pensions and prevailing wage and demand that other people get treated as horribly as they have been treated.  

    Advocating for lower wages on public sector jobs is a very short sighted solution…it drives more people from good middle class lives into barely survivable wages (who can raise a family on $15 a hr–that’s $30,000 annually).  Yes we need to cut costs, but let’s be smart about it and not throw the baby out with the bath water.  The key to a prosperous society is everyone having money to spend, and driving wages down prevents that.  Look at the big picture.

  • Striker57

    The voters and taxpayers of Massachusetts voted 58 to 42% to maintain the state’s Prevailing Wage Law in 1988.

    They saw the phoney claims of excessive wages, they saw that prevailing wage repeal only targets workers but leaves huge profits and paychecks for bannks and contractors alone. They voted to stand with blue collar workers.

    The voters spoke, just as they did with Prop 2 1/2. So you going to repeal Prop 2 1/2 while you go after construction workers wages too?

  • The previaling wage law, also couched as community standards, is a way for politicians to protect the jobs of the unions and their members who contribute both money and time to their campaigns and work to ensure that their political patrons are re-elected.

    I have spoken with union leaders about “community standard” wages asking what if I hire a non-union contractor who offered similar benefits as unions and wages equal to the union wage rate less the union dues.  Wouldn’t those workers be getting the same relative take home pay as the union employees?  Was quickly told that its more than just what they are paid, its about being part of the union.

    The unions claim that they build better projects than non-union labor, but I have yet to see a study that proves that assertion and that it is worth it to pay more for better work.  I point to the crumbling schools that require extensive repairs after being in service only 30 – 40 years, weren’t these built by union labor, yet they are falling apart while schools built in the early 1900’s still stand strong?  Was told that it was not the construction that was the issue but the maintenance.  Well isn’t the maintenance also provided by union members?

    Its time to re-look at prevailing wages and the impact it is having on municipal construction costs and employment.

  • The unions bought and paid for this state government specifically to protect things like the prevailing wage. The more wasteful and unreasonable the more non-negotiable.

    If we want to get rid of the prevailing wage AND other taps on our economic life-blood then we are gong to have buy ourselves another state government first.