Another Attempt at Prevailing Wage?

McCarthy Promises Another Attempt at Prevailing Wage, Kibbie says Union Bills Not a Priority

On Tuesday, May 12, the leaders of the House and Senate took part in a forum sponsored by Iowa Politics. Attending the forum were House Minority Leader Paulsen, House Majority Leader McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader McKinley and Senate President Kibbie.

A question was asked about four of the main labor union priorities. Those priorities were prevailing wage, otherwise known as price fixing for public projects, open scope collective bargaining (Chapter 20) and teacher termination, fair share fees (dismantling Right to Work), and employee choice of doctor (employee doctor shopping). All four failed to get 51 votes in the House during the 2009 session.

When asked if any of these bills could be on the agenda in 2010, Senator Kibbie said “I don’t know that they’ll be a priority.” (Des Moines Register, May 12, 2009)

However, McCarthy said the prevailing wage bill “probably will be on the radar screen again” during the 2010 session. McCarthy said he doesn’t consider it “union” legislation because it would stem some problems with artificially low wages and illegal immigration on projects to rebuild Iowa after the floods. (Des Moines Register, May 12, 2009)

Considering the bill came up only one vote short in 2009, it appears that great pressure will be put on one of the six dissenting votes in order to flip one of them. The six Democrats who joined all Republicans in opposing the bill were Representatives Huser, Marek, Kelley, Quirk, Mertz and Bailey.

Of the six, Bailey appears to be the most likely to flip if the unions agree to his changes to the bill. During debate on the bill, Bailey unsuccessfully attempted to exempt most local government and community college projects from having to pay the prevailing wage. It is unknown at this point if the building trades would agree to this major change to the bill in order to secure the 51st vote.

The bottom line for House Republicans is that it was historic victory for Iowans that none of these four bills moved in 2009 but despite Senator Kibbie’s words we must remain vigilant heading into the 2010 session. After all, the Democrats passed the open scope collective bargaining bill during an election year with a smaller majority than they have now so just being an election year will not necessarily prevent any of the fours bills from passing the House.