Township Passes Resolution Backing Prevailing Wage Reforms
“I think we have a few union busters on the board that have a hatred for unions,” said board member Phil Calabro, who cast the lone vote against the measure.
In a move to throw support behind the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, the Newtown Township Supervisors passed a resolution Wednesday backing reform of the prevailing wage act in the state House of Representatives.
“The prevailing wage act is pretty much an unfunded mandate from the state,” board member Rob Ciervo said. He said the laws force local governments to pay higher wages and exorbitant administrative costs.
“All that happens is these artificially high rates are passed on to the taxpayers,” Ciervo said.
PSATS is advocating support of three prevailing wage reform bills that they say drive up costs for local governments. The first of the bills, House bill 1329, would raise the threshold on projects covered by the prevailing wage rules from the current $25,000 to $185,000. The second, House bill 1271, clarifies the definition of maintenance work, limiting what is covered by prevailing wage. The third, House bill 1191, would give municipalities a pass on paying prevailing wage for maintenance projects on existing roads.
The bills made it out of the House Labor and Industry Committee in October on a party line vote with Republican support, but were never up for a floor vote. Ciervo said PSATS leadership expects to push the issue again at the state level.
The measure passed by a 4-1 vote, with Democrat Phil Calabro voting no. Calabro said such a reform would lead to unskilled workers completing township projects.
“It opens up a can of worms,” Calabro said. “You get what you pay for. Is this good for the township? No, because you’re only going to have shoddy workmanship that produces a shoddy product.”
“I think we have a few union busters on the board that have a hatred for unions,” Calabro added.
However, others on the board agreed with Ciervo that the reforms are needed so townships can decide what’s best for them. “I personally am a believer in local governments. The people closest to the residents can hear their voices the loudest,” Vice Chairman Matt Benchener said.
But resident John D’Aprile said he agreed with Calabro. “I’m ashamed that the party I’m registered to is labeled with union busting,” D’Aprile said. “This country was built by unions."