The Ohio School Facilities Commission voted Thursday to prohibit the use of mandatory union-scale wage requirements on school construction projects. Prior to this reversal, the OSFC had required contractors to pay laborers “prevailing wage” rates or to agree to a “project labor agreement.”

Prevailing wage rates are determined by the Ohio Department of Commerce and can vary by trade and locality, but are based on rates found in collective bargaining agreements. Project labor agreements are pre-hire agreements that establish the wages, among other employment issues, for a specific construction project.

The OSFC was created in 1997 to work with Ohio school districts to build and renovate schools, and had required the payment of prevailing wages on all of its projects since 2007. The OSFC has dispersed over $9 billion for school projects since its inception in 1997, including about $1 billion between July of 2009 and June of 2010.