HARRISBURG – The House Labor and Industry Committee will hold the last in a series of four hearings on Pennsylvania’s outdated prevailing wage law in Williamsport Thursday, Sept. 26. The committee will meet from 1-4 p.m. in Williamsport City Hall, at 245 W. 4th St.
“In previous hearings, the committee was told how townships, boroughs and counties postpone or cancel important public construction projects because of the cost of prevailing wage,” said committee chairman, Mario Scavello (R-Monroe). “Now we will hear from school districts as well as municipalities which are forced to cut programs or increase taxes because of this outdated law.”
The topics of the hearing will include problems related to the law and various approaches to reforming the act, which hasn’t been updated since 1963.
“I am pleased to welcome the committee to Lycoming County and welcome their effort to gain the insights of our local officials who are forced to raise taxes or reduce services because of the Prevailing Wage Act,” said Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming). “This is a critical economic issue in Pennsylvania, and addressing this in the right fashion could go a long way in aiding the recovery effort. We need to apply commonsense ideas to our economic issues, and this is one way to do it for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.”
Among those scheduled to testify in Williamsport are Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland, Snyder County Commissioner Joseph Kantz, Cogan House Township (Lycoming County) Supervisor Chairman Howard Fry, Chapman Township (Clinton County) Supervisor Tim Horner, Loyalsock Township (Lycoming County) Manager Bill Burdett, retired Williamsport Area School District Superintendent Dr. Oscar Knade, Building and Construction Trades Council President Frank Sirianni, Laborers’ International Union of North America Legislative Director Abe Amoros, Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jason Fink and Troy Borough (Bradford County) Council Member Krystle Bristol.
Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage law requires municipalities and school districts to pay the “prevailing minimum wage” to those working on public construction projects. The law leaves much discretion to the secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry as to how to set the wage. Currently, the secretary is opting to use the area union wage rates as the prevailing wage rate that is to be paid on public projects. It is argued by Prevailing Wage Act reform proponents that union wage rates are more comparable to wages rates paid in larger cities, and often do not reflect the actual prevailing wages paid in rural areas. Reform advocates believe that basing prevailing wage rates in rural counties on union wage rates inflates the costs of public projects anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent.
This hearing may be viewed LIVE online at www.pahousegop.com.