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Prevailing wage misunderstood

| Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

With regard to his column “About that transportation bill ...” (Nov. 24 and TribLIVE.com), I would like to educate Colin McNickle about the prevailing wage. Comparing the prevailing wage to “government-sanctioned extortion” is exactly what I would expect from some right-wing lunatic who doesn't understand this law.

In 1961, the lawmakers of this great commonwealth came up with an idea to reinvest in the American worker while adding profits to the local economy and tax base. This law states that any publicly funded construction project (worth more than a certain amount) shall pay a family-sustaining wage regardless of any affiliation with a union — this wage shall be paid to any worker, union or nonunion. Granted, these wages are derived from collective bargaining agreements with trade unions.

Most nonunion workers get paid a substandard salary and in most cases are provided with no health care or pension plan. When given the opportunity to work on a prevailing-wage project, their pay is increased and they are able to provide for their families, with extra money to spend in the local economy.

Instead of bashing unions, how about thanking them for improving the middle class?

Tim Custer

The writer is business manager of Youngwood-based Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 354 (lu354.com).

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