Michigan Maritime Trades Port Council President Jeannette Bradshaw testified on March 8th in front of the Michigan House of Representatives’s Labor Committee, advocating for the restoration of the state’s prevailing wage laws for government-funded construction projects.
Prevailing wage laws set floors on wages and benefits for contractors on public works, ensuring that the bidding process does not become a race to the bottom on which firms are willing to pay their employees the least.
While prevailing wages are guaranteed on the federal level through legislation such as the Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act, Michigan’s legislature repealed the state’s prevailing wage law in 2018 following a vicious anti-worker campaign funded by anti-union construction companies.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer first opened the door to restoring prevailing wages via executive order for state-level projects in 2021, but local and county government construction wages remained an open question.
Speaking on behalf of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Michigan State Conference, President Bradshaw (a member of its Local 58) asserted that reinstituting prevailing wages “will be essential for making sure that these jobs will be filled by the best-qualified workers, and that the jobs and the wages they bring in stay in our Michigan communities. Prevailing wage laws are clearly the best for the construction industry, the best for taxpayers.
“The skills learned in the construction industry should be respected just as much as a college degree,” she continued.
Thanks to convincing testimony from supporters such as Bradshaw, the legislation passed the state House of Representatives and now moves to the Michigan Senate for consideration. Another piece of legislation repealing Michigan’s misguided “right to work” laws also passed the Michigan House of Representatives on the same day, and similarly awaits deliberation in the state Senate. If signed into law, both bills will benefit workers seeking fair pay, good benefits, and safe working conditions.
Sister Bradshaw, who introduced herself to the Labor Committee as a proud licensed journeyman electrician of over 20 years, has led the Michigan Maritime Trades Port Council since 2016. She serves as the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO’s Secretary-Treasurer and as Local 58’s Recording Secretary.