Letter to the Editor

Labor rep asks for repeal of HB 1019

Sunday, April 5, 2015

To the editor:

I hope our Indiana Senators take the time to look at the facts and not run with the party line in the attempt to repeal the Common Construction Wage (CCW) law (HB 1019). This law has been around for over 80 years and continues to do what it was originally intended to do, keep local taxpayers' money... local! Republican House Representatives obviously don't care about Hoosiers and good paying local jobs, because they already voted to repeal the CCW.

The CCW allows local employers to pay living wages to those who live and work in our communities. If this law is repealed, an influx of out of state contractors and their workers will be here to hastily build public works projects, like our schools, and then leave the state with Hoosier money in their pockets. They will not spend it here, they will not stay here, and they will take the money and run.

We will lose local money that otherwise would be spent at local businesses, recirculated, and help local businesses stay profitable. We will lose local sales taxes and income taxes as the wages exit our state. How does this make sense?

I keep hearing the absolute lie that repealing the CCW will save taxpayers up to 20 percent! I am sure you are smart people, but for those who are not in the contracting business, any labor savings (which does not even take into account apprenticeship training, skill levels, and productivity) will affect only one of four parts of the bid process.

You have labor, materials, overhead and profits in a bid. So how does a supposed 20 percent overall project cost happen when you are reducing wages, only one part of the four? You are only reducing a percentage of a percentage.

You will lose self-funded training that teaches these skills through four to five years of on the job training and classroom work through apprenticeships. You will lose any incentive for bright, hard-working students to have any interest in working in the skilled trades as a career, you will lose local employers. You will lose local wages being spent locally, and you will lose any sense of pride to build our public works projects safely and right the first time.

A 20 percent reduction in labor does not mean a 20 percent reduction in the overall project costs! If your electric bill goes down by 20 percent, do your overall utility costs (which include telephone, gas, cable TV and Internet service) go down by 20 percent? No. Your overall utility costs go down slightly, but with every other utility bill staying constant, the reduction is nowhere near being a 20 percent saving. It is that "fuzzy" math in play again!

We keep hearing about how we need good paying jobs in Indiana. Well, we have them right now in front of you, but with a vote to repeal the CCW, you just voted to destroy existing good paying Hoosier jobs. Pure and simple! These are jobs located in every Representative's and Senator's districts. They cost the state nothing in start-up costs or incentives, they provide health insurance and wages keeping workers off of public services and out of Emergency Rooms, and these jobs provide training from out of their own pocket, not the taxpayers.

Tom Szymanski

I.B.E.W. Local 725