Pittsburgh Prevailing Wage: Union Power Play

Pittsburgh Prevailing Wage: Union Power Play

Pittsburgh’s Councilman Shields will propose a prevailing wage bill that is expected to mandate that employees at businesses with a City contract or receiving any City subsidy be compensated the same as City employees doing the same job.

Since City employees other than managers are likely to be union members, the compensation requirement would effectively unionize all newly covered workers in terms of pay and benefits. But unless they are union members they will not have a contract covering work rules and they will not have to pay dues. Thus, the non-union workers covered by prevailing wage would receive the benefits without the union dues cost.

If the employees covered by the prevailing wage are union members but are earning less than City workers, the new law will in effect supersede collective bargaining agreements. And we have been told for years those agreements are sacrosanct. That appears not to be the case if the government decides to force the company to pay more than the negotiated contract calls for.

In the case of the non-union workers getting union pay and benefits, the question must be asked: Why would unions support the proposed bill? Why not simply ask that Council require the workers on City contracts or on projects getting a subsidy join the union? Legally, that might be hard to enforce if the workers vigorously oppose being compelled to join a union and fail to vote to be represented.

All told, one must wonder why the prevailing bill is so important to unions. It must be viewed as just another way of showing their strength in the City and reminding politicians who is in charge.