Labor gets reformed by the GOP
Senate Bill 119 was signed into law by Gov. Sandoval on March 6. It allows local school boards to roll over 10-year bonds without a vote by the public. However, it eliminates the requirement for the payment of prevailing wages on school construction projects. This is a major victory for taxpayers and a blow to the Reid machine in Nevada.
While many conservatives were opposed to the rollover provision, others like Nevada Families’ Janine Hansen points out that whenever the voters have turned down these bond renewals, invariably other bonds, like sewer or GID, keep the property tax rate right at the cap. It was worth the bond renewal concession to strike a blow against Davis-Bacon, the federal prevailng wage law.
Davis-Bacon, passed in 1931 and signed by President Herbert Hoover (more proof Hoover was a progressive) was meant to keep wage rates high, even during a depression. This only keeps unemployment high. The workers most likely to work for less are often minorities. Since the 19th century crews of black construction workers had traveled the country and often outbid local construction companies for jobs. It was hard but honest work. But entrenched labor interests passed state and local Davis-Bacon laws mandating that public works jobs had to match the local union wage rate, thereby preventing competition from the minority construction crews. Most unions excluded blacks because unions work, like the minimum wage laws, by reducing hiring to push wages higher.
The history of unions is the history of opposing, at one time and sometimes even now, immigrants, women, Chinese, blacks, gays and anyone who was willing to work for less than the wage rates they demanded. Black strike breakers were particularly effective in ending violent strikes. Yet somehow the stories of these heroic workers is never celebrated during Black History Month. Of all the unions, the construction trades are considered the most racist, even to this day.
The dirty little secret of all union organizing to raise wage rates is that raising wages doesn’t hurt the bosses so much as it hurts other, nonunion workers. If the unions can force wages higher than the market rate through the strike mechanism, it only restricts employment and depresses the wages of nonunion workers. Why do you think unions never attack the bosses, but throughout their history have been violent to workers (vilified as scabs) who were willing to work for less? The strike method is rarely used today because unions are now down to around 7 percent of the private workforce. People generally understand that they cause more harm than good by featherbedding, corruption, violence and restricting jobs.
Unions claim they are the reason for shorter work weeks and overtime, but it was Henry Ford who raised worker pay, just as WalMart is now doing. Productivity increases are the only way to raise wages fairly and sustainably.
The public unions are often prevented from striking, but they are powerful because they raise money through compulsory dues to help elect politicians who will then be across the table from them in mandatory collective bargaining. The left constantly talks about wage inequality but never about the inequality that these privileges have created between public and private compensation. A study recently released by the Nevada Policy Research Institute shows Nevada government employees at all levels retire with very close to or even more than their last year’s paycheck. PERS, the Public Employees Retirement System, is $40 billion in debt from unfunded liabilities.
Look for more labor reform from this Republican-controlled Legislature.