Letter to the Editor by Josh Mumm
January 11, 2011
Let’s be clear, Erie County Executive Chris Collins’ recent attempt to pressure the Legislature to rescind job standards on projects financed by the Erie County Industrial Land Development Corp. will negatively impact our local economy and our work force if approved.
When it comes to quality job requirements like prevailing rate, Collins simply does not have his facts straight. According to a Business First article, the tax-exemptions given by the ILDC create savings of 50 percent or more on development projects. That same article cites Collins claiming that “prevailing wage costs will dwarf savings.” He must not be aware of the fact that extensive research shows prevailing wages only minimally increasing project costs if at all. In other words, savings from exemptions dwarf prevailing wage costs.
One would also hesitate to use the word “cost” in association with prevailing wages. A prevailing wage standard creates a skilled work force through apprenticeship training programs that offer opportunities to women and minorities. It ensures a work force that is 20 percent more productive than lower-wage workers, while creating more local employment opportunities.
Construction companies that are not required to pay prevailing wages often bring in workers from out of state to work on local projects, paying lower wages and leaving local people without access to jobs. And these low-wage conditions are dangerous, reporting significantly higher numbers of injuries and fatalities in comparison to sites with prevailing rate standards.
Erie County needs jobs that protect workers, strengthen local communities, sustain healthy families and take the burden off of the taxpayer. The County Legislature should stand up for Western New York workers and communities by maintaining quality job standards.
Coalition for Economic Justice
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