Prevailing Wage in Allegheny County a Sop to Unions

Allegheny County Council seems intent on passing its version of a prevailing wage law, thereby placing yet one more mandate on businesses in the County. With an overwhelming majority on Council (eleven of fifteen members) the Democrats can expect no effective opposition. In fact, with six Democratic members sponsoring or co-sponsoring this type of legislation, it seems certain to pass eventually.

Mandated wages, such as prevailing wages, are a favorite issue for labor unions and liberal elected officials. They accomplish what labor unions sometimes can’t through bargaining—increase the wages of their members. And they help boost other wage rates by setting a minimum on the wage ladder. The County’s proposed prevailing wage law targets specific job classifications: janitorial, grocery, and hotel and food service workers on projects receiving County assistance. Are private sector unions losing so much ground in the leisure and hospitality industry that they need help from their friends on Council to accomplish their goals?

If they are having trouble organizing workers, isn’t that a signal they have worn out their welcome in the private workplace? It’s unlikely they will take the hint. After all they still have friends in government who are more than willing to help.