The Journal Gazette published an editorial on Feb. 8 headlined “Prevailing opinion/Study undercuts arguments made for wage repeal.” The basis for this editorial was a study by what the newspaper refers to as a nonpartisan group called the Midwest Economic Policy Institute.
Either The Journal Gazette editorial team didn't do its homework or they don't mind being a pawn to spread partisan propaganda. The intent of the propaganda is clear.
Pro-union groups are attempting to cast doubt on the gains Indiana's leaders made on behalf of taxpayers by eliminating a system related to public construction that lined the coffers of unions for decades.
Here is the trail of the so-called nonpartisan source. The Midwest Economic Policy Institute is led by Frank Manzo, whose educational background was from the University of Illinois in organized labor education. He heads up an associated organization called the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, which is mainly funded by the Union Operating Engineers of Chicagoland Political Action Committee along with two other labor organizations and a social welfare organization called Fight Back Fund, all with the same address in Joliet, Illinois. They have a practice of funding university professors who are willing to selectively slant their research to promote the objectives of the unions that pay them for this lofty academic research.
No one is calling for a return of the old prevailing wage system on public construction projects except the union groups the broken and wasteful system supported.
Find me a local government unit that is not already manipulated by organized labor that is calling for a return to the prevailing wage world. Show me a contractor who can pay less for labor today in the midst of an economic boom in Indiana than they paid three, five, or even seven years ago. Show me a market where there is an abundance of skilled workers looking for opportunity that is not there.
It is terribly unfortunate that the only vision for the future that the editorial staff at The Journal Gazette can articulate is a return to the smoke-filled backroom deals of pressure politics that defined public construction for far too long. People in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana are now getting what they long deserved: public projects that are bid competitively with true market wage rates.
J.R. Gaylor of Nobles-ville is president of Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana/Kentucky.