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Negotiation on Public Works Bill Could Bring Democrats Back

There may be room for negotiation on one of the bills Indiana House Democrats say is a key to their return.

Indiana Statehouse

Photo: Noah Coffey (Flickr)

The Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis

House Minority Leader Pat Bauer Wednesday specified two labor bills as pieces of legislation that would need to be changed or removed for Democrats to return from Illinois.  One of those involves the common construction wage in public works projects.  Currently, any public works project valued at $150,000 or more requires adherence to Indiana’s common construction wage — a standard of union pay based on what kind of job a laborer does and how skilled they are at it. 

The new legislation raises the project cost threshold to $1 million.  The legislation’s author, Bill Davis, said few projects cost less than a million dollars any more, meaning it’s time for an update.

“The million dollars basically came from a cost of living index. I think the last time it was changed was in 1995,” Davis said.

Additionally, schools and universities would be exempt from paying the common construction wage on any public project under the new legislation.  Davis says since he learned the Democrats highlighted his bill, he’s spoken with union leaders.

“Organized labor is having some problems with that, and we said, ‘Okay, let’s talk about that. We’ll put the schools and universities back in if we can raise that threshold,” Davis said.

The bill also includes a section involving project labor agreements, which require non-union contractors to pay into union organizations when they successfully secure a public works job.  The House legislation would eliminate those dues to the unions.

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