To the editor:
I attended a hearing Feb. 17 at the Indiana Statehouse that was called to get public input on repealing the Common Wage law in Indiana.
The Common Wage or Prevailing Wage was adopted by the Legislature over 80 years ago to protect state and local government entities from having out-of-state contractors coming in to our areas and low-balling our contractors who hire local people, who in turn pay local and state taxes that support our infrastructure, roads, bridges, schools, etc.
The hearing was a display of power politics at its best. Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, and Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, are the sponsors of the bill. Their proposal is to eliminate the Common Wage altogether. Their people who testified (15) on the reasons the law should be eliminated didn’t justify the initiative. The contractors and professionals (more than 30) who opposed the bill being repealed gave an overwhelming positive testimony on why the state needs to keep the Common Wage law.
All the contractors were in agreement that they currently pay fair wages to highly skilled and productive construction workers and also supply health care and pensions, as well. They also pay into a training fund that supports approved apprenticeship programs in 16 different trades. These workers are not a burden on society, and they should not have to suffer due to the shortsightedness of a few legislators who did not pay attention to what the testimony was.
It is also important to note that less than 24 hours was given as notice that there was going to be a hearing on the issue. All the business owners who testified against the repeal were Republicans. It passed out of committee by a 8-4 vote.
I myself am a taxpaying citizen in the Trafalgar area and have a trade in the craft of pipe fitter/welder, and I do not have a problem with the Common Wage law as it provides for professional contractors who hire highly skilled craftsmen to build our schools and take care of our roads and any other publicly funded projects. Currently any project under $350,000 is not subject to the law.
If this law is repealed it will be a race to the bottom. In my hometown of Trafalgar there are a lot of skilled craftsmen who support our little leagues, churches and community service programs because they are paid fair wages and have health care and a modest pension for retirement.
I would ask all of the citizens of Johnson County to get ahold of your state representatives and let them know that it is time to stop the attack on working people and the contractors who hire them.
I would also ask each and every citizen when you got the survey from your reps, did it ask you how you felt about doing away with the Common Wage? Mine sure did not. I reached out and met with my House representative, Eric Koch, and expressed my view but did not hear back from Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville.
David L. Posey