With the recent decision by the Indiana House who voted 55-41 to repeal Indiana’s law for setting wages on public construction projects, the general public may not quite be aware of what this means, who this effects and what this means for the Northwest Indiana, as well as the entire state of Indiana. No matter your working background, House Bill 1019 and the Common Construction Wage Law are issues that affect all Indiana residents and should be known by everyone who invests in Indiana’s future.
What is House Bill 1019?
House Bill 1019 is a bill designed to repeal the 80-year-old Indiana Common Construction Wage Law. This law was originally designed to keep out-of state contractors with lower-skilled workers coming to Indiana and upsetting the balance of local contractors on state-funded construction projects.
“While this may seem to some people like a debate between state legislature and labor, this is not the case,” says Michelle Boyd, Executive Director of the Indiana Building Contractors Alliance. “This is a business issue plain and simple, one that could impact thousands of construction businesses and local communities in Indiana.”
Who is Involved? Representing the businesses that are at risk of being affected by these laws is the Indiana Building Contractors Alliance (IBCA). IBCA currently represents 4,000 contractors and workers who support the act of maintaining the current Common Construction Wage Law.
What is the Common Construction Wage in Indiana?
The Common Construction Wage Law lets local Indiana communities determine wages to pay on public projects and construction projects within the area. The wages are determined and established by a five person committee which consists of various taxpayers, industry experts and the agency currently involved in building the project. This committee determines these wages based on past wages construction workers have been paid in that county.
Currently over 4,000 Indiana Contractors support the Common Construction Wage. Indiana specific studies show evidence that CCW increased the Indiana economy by $700 million, with workers on various projects contributing nearly $21 million in taxes. The CCW also allows for a new generation of workers to be properly trained and become a productive member of the workforce through internships and apprenticeship training. By having more skilled workers, this leads to increased productivity and reduces project waste and human errors.
“The CCW was originally passed by the legislature at the request of local contractors who requested help against out-of-state contractors bringing in low-wage and low-skilled workers,” says Boyd. “Once the project was finished, they would end up leaving effectively taking both local spending and funding with them.”
Why This Matters
“The CCW effects not only people in construction, but normal residents as well,” says Boyd. “It is essential to have a high-skilled workforce in order for projects to be finished on time and on budget.” Boyd also claims that Indiana businesses of all kinds are in danger of losing revenue and business if this law goes away.
“It’s a trickle-down effect,” says Boyd. “If you take away the skilled workers, projects suffer, as they will not be finished properly and will take longer, both of which will needlessly waste money,” says Boyd. “When you bring in out-of-state workers you drive the wages down and you also lose money to have those programs that train future generations of skilled workers. This means less spending in the economy, this means less businesses being built to help stimulate the economy, and this means everyone suffers.”
What Can I Do?
If you’re interested in showing support against the appeal of this law, whether you have a background in construction or not, you have options to make your voice heard.
“Since this bill is now going to the senate, every Indiana resident can call their state senator and simply tell them that you oppose this bill and that you support Indiana construction workers getting fair wages,” says Boyd.
Boyd and other members who support this law want to not only stress that the issues are strictly a business driven policy, but for the protection of the average construction worker as well.
“All we want is for workers to be paid livable wages that allow them to support a family,” says Boyd.
Boyd claims that it’s difficult to find people to work in construction, especially those who are cut out to handle the demands of a construction job.
Boyd also claims that by opposing this bill, the economy of Indiana can be protected.
“The economy hasn’t completely recovered yet,” says Boyd. “We need to do everything we can to ensure that it’s stable for all Indiana residents.”