Protesters gather at Statehouse, urge lawmakers to keep common construction wage law intact

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INDIANAPOLIS (April 13, 2015) – Hundreds of union leaders, workers and contractors covered the Statehouse lawn Monday afternoon, rallying lawmakers to keep Indiana’s common construction wage law.

A measure before lawmakers, facing another vote in the State Senate Tuesday, would repeal the state 80-year-old requirement.

“Enough is enough,” the protestors chanted. “Just vote no.”

The bill would eliminate the system that sets wages for public projects more than $350,000.

“They’re going against the people’s wishes,” Kathi Ottesen, owner of Indiana Traffic Services. “I mean look at this right here. Who are they trying to please?”

Supporters of repealing the law, including Gov. Mike Pence, have said it will save Hoosier taxpayers money. But opponents, including Republican contractors at Monday’s rally, said it will create a system where unqualified out-of-state companies bid low and win.

“I want to know how many families’ lives are worth the dollar they’re going to save with a, let’s say a minimum wage flagman, out here on I-65?” Frank Marshall said, president of G.E. Marshall.

Monday’s rally was organized by the Indiana Building Contractors Alliance, which represents 4,000 contractors statewide.

“We came from skilled labor guilds, unions and we belong there,” Larry McKinney said, a retired worker. “We built this country. Don’t cut our feet out from under us.”

Last week the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee tweaked the original version of the bill, adding punishments for contractors who abuse work rules and adding requirements for employee training programs.

“Our ultimate goal here is to modify the system in such a way that we have good competition, that jobs are preserved, that fair wages are preserved,” State Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) said last week. “And that none of the negative assertions that have been made about the bill come to pass.”

Twenty-seven amendments are listed for Tuesday’s Senate session. Senate President Pro Tem David Long said Republican continue discussing any proposed changes.

The original version of the bill already passed the House. If the Senate passes the measure, Pence has said he will sign the repeal into law.

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