Prevailing Wage Reform Considered by PA General Assembly

December 2011Articles In the Zone

A legislative package of various bills has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would reform the Commonwealth’s approach to prevailing wage requirements.

  • HB 1329 would increase the prevailing wage rate threshold from the current $25,000 to $185,000. It would also adjust this amount annually based on the Consumer Price Index. The current rate is almost 50 years old and viewed as unreasonable by proponents of the reform bill.
  • HB 1271 would clarify the definition of “maintenance work” as it relates to rehabilitation work on roads, highways and bridges. The new definition would exclude the replacement of guide rails and curbs, the repair of pavement by overlaying bituminous material or patching cement surfaces, road widening that does not result in additional lanes, and bridge cleaning and resurfacing. This bill would remedy the actions of the 2008 Youngwood Borough Supreme Court case that redefined those activities that have historically been considered maintenance and thus, exempt from the prevailing wage law.
  • HB 1367 would require the Department of Labor and Industry to determine the prevailing wage rates for each county by utilizing occupational wage rate data as determined by the Department’s Center for Workforce and Analysis as the basis of the determination. The current methodology in determining prevailing wage rates are based on language that is fundamentally vague and often applied in an inconsistent manner. Also, the weight that the statute and regulations currently give to collective bargaining agreements and union wages tend to skew the rates unnecessarily higher than they otherwise would have been if determined under alternative means. This bill would establish a clear and uniform set of guidelines in determining proper wage rates.
  • HB 1191 would exclude political subdivisions or local authorities from the prevailing wage requirements. Municipalities and local authorities would have the option to place themselves under the jurisdiction of prevailing wage requirements by passing an ordinance or resolution.

Reform efforts have been supported by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors as well the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

For more information, please contact Lauren W. Taylor at 215.918.3625 or [email protected].

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