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Local officials argue impact of prevailing wage law

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township argued before the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry this week for a change in the state’s Prevailing Wage Law.

“It’s been 59 years and that law has not been amended, although there have been attempts to amend it,” he said.

His renewed call for a bill he’s sponsored raises the threshold of the prevailing wage from $25,000 to $185,000.

State prevailing wage is a law that requires all workers on state-funded construction projects exceeding $25,000 be paid a minimum amount.

Those calling for a repeal of the prevailing wage or an increase in the threshold argue that workers could be paid less, making construction projects cheaper.

Many on the other side claim workers deserve to be paid a living wage.

Lycoming County Commissioner Tony Mussare said the threshold should be increased.

He said he’s hopeful that Yaw’s legislation is passed.

While not speaking out against the bill, Commissioner Rick Mirabito was less than cool to it.

All workers, he said, need to fight to protect their livelihoods.

“I never met a plumber, construction worker or laborer who is a millionaire,” he said. “They ought to be able to make a living.”

Eliminating the prevailing wage, he said, would hurt working people.

Mussare said the Prevailing Wage Law as it now exists prevents many projects from simply getting started due to their high costs.

Yaw noted that Prevailing Wage Law regulations “allow the Secretary of Labor and Industry to consider collective bargaining agreements and other types of data for purposes of determining the wage rates.”

Mussare said he feels an increase in the prevailing wage threshold won’t affect unions.

“Many jobs you can’t get done without union labor,” he said.

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