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International Operating Engineer - Winter 2017

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Politics & Legislation

Politics & Legislation Prevailing Wage Law an Early Target in New Congress Anti-worker “Right-to-Work” Laws Advance in States SENATOR JEFF FLAKE, an antiworker Republican from Arizona, wasted no time in the newly sworn-in 115th Congress to propose the repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act. On January 24th, Senator Flake introduced S. 195, the Transportation Investment Recalibration to Equality (TIRE) Act, which would eliminate the prevailing wage requirement on all federal highway construction contracts. In his press release, Senator Flake said, “By suspending onerous prevailing wage provisions on all federal highway construction projects, the TIRE Act will ensure that tax dollars go toward projects and jobs, not overpriced union labor contracts.” The prevailing wage applies to all construction workers, whether a union contractor wins the bid or not. Senator Flake is saying that an Arizona Backhoe Operator making .37 an hour, with .85 in total fringe benefits, which is the current Davis-Bacon prevailing highway construction wage rate in most of Arizona, gets paid too much. The Davis-Bacon Act is a commonsense policy. It requires that contractors on a project with federal assistance – whether through federal loans, grants, or other types of financing – pay construction craftworkers a minimum wage that is established by the U.S. Department of Labor through a local survey of wages and benefits. The law simply prevents the federal government – a large, influential construction owner – from using our own precious tax dollars to undercut the wage standards in our communities. It prevents large out-ofstate contractors from undercutting local businesses. It ensures that bottom-feeding contractors can’t win a public construction project by lowering workers’ wages in a neverending race to the bottom. They must compete on a level playing field with IUOE union contractors. And, while it’s no guarantee, it helps ensure the quality of construction that taxpayers ought to expect. The Davis-Bacon Act has no effect on total costs of construction. Opponents of the law invent imaginary savings to justify their crony-capitalist positions. Numerous studies have revealed that productivity makes up for any additional labor costs, essentially eliminating any cost-savings if the law was repealed. Senator Flake’s political career has been a tireless assault on working families. He is trying to lower wages for blue-collar workers. It’s that simple. He thinks making less than an hour to build highways is too much money. He ought to tell his constituents that he thinks they make too much money. But you won’t hear him say that. Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers will beat back Senator Flake’s most recent attack, as we have successfully done in the past. As General President Callahan has said, “Together, we can successfully combat these anti-worker attacks against the members of the Operating Engineers.” We must stay vigilant. Call your Senators and Representative. Let them know that you support the Davis-Bacon Act and oppose S. 195. We’re tired of the TIRE Act and its assault on workers. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. [photo] IUOE Local 324 IN JANUARY, Kentucky became the 27th “right-to-work” state in the United States, joining every other state in the South. For the first time in decades, Republicans took control in the Kentucky House of Representatives in the 2016 elections. They wasted no time enacting anti-worker policy. Governor Matt Bevin, who surprised election watchers and pollsters by winning the governor’s race in 2015, actively supported “right-to-work” throughout the election cycle. Once anti-worker majorities were in place in both chambers of the legislature, they didn’t waste any time. Within weeks of convening, legislation to repeal the state prevailing wage and enact “right-to-work” were sent to the Governor for his signature. Unfortunately, that is not the only bad news from the elections of 2016. IUOE-backed candidates lost races for governor in two key states that are now likely to go “right-to-work:” Missouri and New Hampshire. HHHH ACTION ALERT HHHH New Missouri Governor Eric Greitens says he will sign “right-towork” legislation when it gets to his desk, making the “Show Me” State the 28th state in the country to intervene in labor-management negotiations to prohibit “union security” clauses. Other parts of the country are not exempt from the challenges in the Midwest and the South. New Hampshire currently has a “right-towork” battle on its hands. The IUOEbacked candidate lost to Republican Governor Chris Sununu, and, unfortunately, he is expected to sign “right-to-work” legislation, perhaps even by press time. It would become the first state in New England to pass such laws. With twenty-nine states likely to be “right-to-work” this year, it will not be long before anti-union politicians attempt to push a national “right-towork” bill in Congress. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) sponsored the law in the past, with the support of the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. • Fight back against national “right-to-work” legislation. • Visit for more information. • Call your Senators and Reps at the Capitol: 202-224-3121 • Tell them to “right-to-work” is wrong for America. WHAT IS “RIGHT-TO-WORK?” “Right-to-work” laws insert the government into labormanagement negotiations, eliminating “union security” clauses in collective bargaining agreements. These “union security” clauses simply require workers who benefit under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to pay their fair share for its administration. To negotiate a major contract, it takes time, legal costs, financial research, strategic sense, and commitment to get the job done. To put it simply, a good CBA is a lot of work. Union security clauses do not require union membership. No one can be forced to join an organization in the United States of America. “Rightto-work” laws compel union officials to provide services to workers under the agreement without asking the worker to pay his/her fair share to support the maintenance of the agreement. “Right-to-work” laws even allow an individual worker to avoid the union’s cost for taking up a grievance on their behalf. Yet the union still has a duty to represent the worker. “Right-to-work” is wrong. It is wrong for workers, employers, and they’re simply un-American. 8 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER WINTER 2017 9

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