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Prevailing Wage to Increase
Bills make it more expensive for local governments

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries oversees prevailing wage laws in the state of Oregon. According to their website, "prevailing wage rates are the amounts that must be paid to construction workers on all public works projects in Oregon." Cynics have described prevailing wage laws as "the government overcharging itself for services."

Currently, prevailing wage is set by what is called an independent wage survey that is done across 14 regions in Oregon. HB 2419 would tie prevailing wage to collective bargaining contracts. HB 2597 would reduce the number of regions to five. Both bills are sponsored by Representative Paul Holvey (D-Eugene). Both bills had a hearing on February 10 in the House Business and Labor Committee, which is chair by Representative Holvey. Neither has been scheduled for further action.

HB 2419 is being opposed by Lori Sattenspiel who represents the Oregon School Boards Association. She said, "if this bill passes and becomes effective, we expect wages to increase. These eight districts going out for a bond now may find themselves short of funds to complete projects. Again, these schools have done their due diligence up front, including some escalation factors to account for trends in materials and wage rates. If there is a wage spike caused due to these bills, referenced as results of similar legislation in Washington state, these projects are going to have problems."

According to Tracy Rutten Rainey who represents the League of Oregon Cities, "this bill significantly alters the process by which prevailing wage rates are determined by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. The proposed revisions in these bills represent a significant policy change that could result in unexpected cost increases for some projects." Rutten prefers HB 2252, introduced by Representative Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) which calls for the Bureau of Labor and Industries to study how they determine the wages.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-21 17:12:12Last Update: 2021-02-21 18:05:54



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