Many people praise the idea of a prevailing wage. It’s the wage and benefits paid to hourly workers that Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries determines is paid to the majority of workers in a specified trade.

Contractors and subcontractors are required, in turn, to pay that prevailing wage to workers employed on public works projects. The idea is it guarantees public money goes to ensure workers are well paid in an area, and that can ripple outward in a number of positive ways.

Detractors say it raises the cost of public projects. And it can, though supporters say that’s worth it.

This session, Oregon legislators passed Senate Bill 493. In certain circumstances, it changes how the prevailing wage is calculated. If, for instance, there is more than one collective bargaining agreement in an area for a trade or occupation, the bill specifies that the highest wage rate is the one to pick.

That isn’t necessarily the prevailing wage. It’s just the highest. State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, tried to stop the bill, as did state Rep. Jack Zika, R-Bend. State Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, backed it.

What would you have done?

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