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HomeIllinois NewsPrevailing wage topic of new VoteVets Ad to be aired throughout Illinois

Prevailing wage topic of new VoteVets Ad to be aired throughout Illinois



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SPRINGFIELD – Prevailing wage standards could move to the forefront of political discussion as new ads paid for by a group called VoteVets airs throughout Illinois and several other key states:

A new study commissioned by VoteVets – the largest progressive group of veterans in America – lauds the impact of prevailing wage laws on veterans in the construction industry. The study was conducted by Frank Manzo IV of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, University of Illinois-Urbana Professor Robert Bruno, and Colorado State University-Pueblo Economist, Dr. Kevin Duncan.

“The data clearly shows that veterans work in the skilled construction trades at significantly higher rates than non-veterans,” said Manzo.  “The difference is even more pronounced in states with average or strong prevailing wage policies–so any changes in these laws will have an outsized impact on those who have served in the military.”

The economic outcomes of veterans would be significantly altered if all states with strong or average prevailing wage legislation weakened or repealed their laws. If state prevailing wage laws were repealed:

  • There would be a 65,000-job drop in the number of veterans employed as construction workers nationally;
  • The job separations and earnings losses would result in a $3.1 billion decline in veteran incomes in construction;
  • The number of veterans without health insurance would increase by 24,000 uninsured; and
  • Approximately 5,000 employed veterans would now earn incomes below the official poverty line.

If Illinois were to repeal its prevailing wage law, the study argues, as many as 4,300 blue-collar veterans would separate from their jobs in construction occupations. The total income of all veterans employed in construction jobs would decline by $216 million, approximately 1,700 veterans would lose their employer provided health plan, and over 300 veteran workers would fall into poverty. The largest impacts would be experienced in Cook County, St. Clair County, and Sangamon County.

As part of Governor Rauner's "Turnaround Illinois" agenda, he has called for repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law, which requires that state-funded public construction projects pay wages comparable to average rates in a region. In his first state of the state address, he argued that the prevailing wage law increases the cost of construction by 20 percent and raises school construction costs by $160 million a year. 

“It is appalling to see so many politicians who profess to ‘support veterans’ actively fighting to cut their wages,” said VoteVets Chairman Jon Soltz. “Prevailing wage laws help more veterans translate battlefield skills into middle class careers in their communities.  With too many post 9/11 veterans struggling to find work, we need to be strengthening these laws, not weakening them.

Click Here to Download a Summary of the Report.

Click Here to Download the Full Report.


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