On June 6, 2018, the Michigan legislature voted to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law, which required union scale wages on public construction projects. The Senate passed the legislation on a 23-14 vote before sending it to the House, which narrowly passed the measure 56-53. The repeal took effect immediately.
The vote, passed by Republicans on partisan lines, serves as the adoption of a citizen petition led by the group Protecting Michigan Taxpayers to repeal the more than 50-year-old prevailing wage law. The petition was previously certified by state canvassers and upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals after a court battle.
The petition initiative, which was fiercely opposed by organized labor, began after unsuccessful attempts by the legislature to repeal the law through the legislative process. Governor Snyder opposed previous legislation, and is on record as being in opposition of the petition drive. Citizen petitions, adopted by the legislature, are not subject to the governor’s veto power.
Critics of the prevailing wage law argued that its mandate inflates costs for public construction contracts, increases red tape, and makes it harder for non-union contractors to compete for projects. Proponents of the law argued that it helped fund skilled-worker training that is important for the state economy and helps increase worker safety.