A push by Republicans in the state House of Representatives to reform prevailing wage laws is garnering support from local politicians.
At a meeting Wednesday, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors member Rob Ciervo said he’d like to see the municipality express formal support for three prevailing wage reform bills that were considered during the last House session.
Ciervo said he expects the issue will be revisited when the House reconvenes later this month.
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 the bills, which have the support of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, could help save the township money if passed.
Board of Supervisors chair Mike Gallagher urged Ciervo to reach out to the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors to determine if a sample resolution has been drafted for municipalities to support.
, the Hellertown Borough Council in October passed a resolution in support of prevailing wage reform.
Supervisors vice chair Matt Benchener said he supports Ciervo in his hopes to do the same in Newtown Township. “I think this is a worthy thing for us to pursue. I think we always need to be taking a stand for local autonomy as much as possible,” he said.
Democrats in the House Labor and Industry Committee voted against the three bills when they were considered Oct. 3.
The state AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions, has been vocal in its opposition to the reforms.
A letter on its website urges supporters to contact their legislators in opposition to the reforms, saying they will “severely cut the incomes of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania workers and their families and also allow substantially more taxpayer-funded work to be given to out-of-state, low-wage workers.”
But the reforms have the support of the Pennsylvania Chamber.
“Since its enactment 50 years ago, Pennsylvania’s Prevailing Wage Act has burdened local governments and taxpayers,” said the Chamber on its website. “The PA Chamber opposes mandated wage laws because they force employers to pay workers in excess of what they might voluntarily accept; impose extensive paperwork and significant costs on employers; and generally hinder job creation and economic growth.”