A compromise in the legislature leads to a breakthrough on the controversial topic of union-only labor agreements for public construction projects. The House has followed the lead of the Senate in approving the legislation, sending it to Governor Blunt. The House has voted 145-7 in favor of SB 339 . The Senate approved it unanimously earlier.
The bill strikes a compromise between union-supporters who had adamantly opposed it in the past and those wanting to break union monopolies over certain public construction projects. The bill bans union-only contracts for projects receiving more than half their funding from the state. For other contracts, public bodies could enter labor agreements after analyzing all options and holding public hearings.
Rep. Michael Frame (D-Eureka), though, doesn’t see it as much of a compromise, accusing the sponsor of promoting cheap labor, asking Rep. Barney Fisher (R-Richards) during House debate why he would promote a bill that drives wages down. Fisher rejects the assessment, noting that his bill strengthens prevailing wage laws, requirements that contractors pay workers the prevailing wage of the region in which the project is being constructed. The bill prohibits contractors from giving sub-contractors wage subsidies to get around having to pay the prevailing wage. Fisher says the bill will lower the cost of public construction projects, especially the construction of school buildings.