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Changes in prevailing wage law will hurt workers

To the Editor:
State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen’s prevailing wage ideas will cut pay and cost jobs for blue collar workers.
I am a retired construction worker who spent his career building infrastructure in this state. A recent letter in this paper caught my attention. He attacked prevailing wage laws in Minnesota. For those who don’t know, prevailing wage is nothing more than local area standard wages for construction workers.
Gruenhagen called prevailing wage the “union wage.” That’s false. The local wage rate is established by looking at local wages paid on real jobs in our area, both union and nonunion workers benefit. He also fantasizes that we can save millions of dollars by getting rid of prevailing wages and that this will create more jobs. The real reason Gruenhagen wants to mess with prevailing wage is simple, and it has nothing to do with taxpayers. He is working for cheap labor contractors that are using him to get rid of the laws that prevent them from paying workers low wages on public projects. The fact is that Gruenhagen and the business owners he fights for  think construction workers in our region make too much money. I’m offended by that. These people are highly trained workers; they put their lives in danger and spend countless days on the road away from their families building this state. They earn their money, Glenn, every penny.
What Gruenhagen is proposing will not only cut the pay of people who get their hands dirty, it will also leave us wide open to not having jobs at all. Without area standards, people from all over the country that are desperate enough to work for minimum pay will flock to Minnesota to take our jobs. Greedy contractors  will exploit these workers, underbid all of our local good-paying contractors, pocket the savings and give the jobs to people who aren’t from here.
  The people of this region need to know that when politicians like Glenn Gruenhagen talk about prevailing wage, they are trying to cut construction workers’ pay, and make it easier for unscrupulous contractors to exploit out-of-town cheap labor to enrich themselves. Local construction workers deserve a fair wage for a fair day’s work and prevailing wage ensures they get it.
Daryl Panning