Indiana AFL-CIO prevails over ABC in local public works jobs
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - The Indiana AFL-CIO prevailed in setting base wages on a pair of public works jobs Thursday over the Associated Builders and Contractors that represents a majority of non-union building and construction contractors.
The war over prevailing wages and ensuring union labor wages are paid on street work in Muncie and a sidewalk and storm sewer project in Daleville were guaranteed by 4-1 votes of prevailing wage committees made up of AFL-CIO, and ABC appointees besides represents of the government or schools involved.
Chris Hiatt, who represents Good Government and the former Repeal Property Taxes groups, has been in the majority on wage decisions for city jobs during former Republican Mayor Sharon McShurley's administration. But he was the lone vote to lower wages on Thursday with Democratic Mayor Dennis Tyler's administration and Democrats on the Daleville Town Council.
Kenneth Neumeister, a consultant representing the ABC, said the group's wage rates, anywhere from $5-$7 an hour below AFL-CIO wages, better reflected prevailing wages paid on public jobs. The AFL-CIO wage for laborers is $22.62 an hour, compared to $16.24 for the ABC, Union carpenters earn around $26.72 compared to the ABC scale of $20.83.
The ABC came into being when Republican lawmakers gave them a seat at prevailing wage committees given the large n umber of non-union contractors doing work and support from state chamber and manufacturer groups.They were the same Republican lawmakers who imposed the Right to Work law in Indiana.
Neumeister dominated the discussion as committee Chairman Roger Hobson, a labor representative, pointed out both AFL-CIO and ABC wage scales comply with the law. And the committee's job is to only set a base wage, allowing government and schools to contract with whoever they want, depending on whether it is the lowesr and best bid.
Joe Evans, AFL-CIO representative, offered the union wage scale, along with specifics on wages paid on public job sites like Ball State University and other private ones at J.C. Penneys.
When Evans, also business agent for Carpenters Local 1016, challenged Neumeister to do the same, the ABC consultant said he did not have to and then got immediate support from Hiatt, a non-union printer, who said the law did not require such disclosures.
Committee member on the Daleville job, Mark McKinney, former prosecutor and now a public defender, recited the law, and the committee found in favor of the AFL-CIO.
The Daleville job, according to town council member Bill Walters, includes about $750,000 worth of sidewalk, street and storm sewer work on Daleville Road near Asberry Street. That work will be put out for bids in July.
The Muncie job is nearly a $1 million worth of street paving, using local wheel tax money, and targeting all Muncie neighborhoods rather than major thoroughfares. Street Supt. Duke Campbell said about 23 lane miles of street repaving.
A list provided to local officials officials this week included portions of 75 streets with a stretch of West Memorial Drive and University through the Village, Ball State University and IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
The county is still working on a large paving program that will see work in most townships. Major projects include improving the Cowan Road and 23rd Street intersection and widening a portion of Morrison Road between Jackson Street and Ind. 332.