Our Major Issues
The MSBCTC partners with the community and works with elected and appointed officials to enact solid policy that reflects the needs of a growing and prosperous state. Because we know that Maine can only be as good as those who build it, our priorities are geared to give hard working Mainers a fair shake and make our state a great place to live, work, play and grow.Conversations with our representatives in Washington, multiple bills in the state legislature and a number of ordinance proposals at the local level have us hard at work educating decision-makers and our friends in the community on issues such as:
Prevailing wage laws regulate the wages and benefits paid to workers on publicly funded construction projects. Maine’s law applies to projects contracted with the State for $50,000 or more, or with public authorities such as the Maine Turnpike Authority. Many states have taken action to protect skilled workers and the wages they command in construction. But here in Maine we can do more.
MSBCTC is Working To:
• Add public school construction and other County or Municipal construction projects using public funding to Maine’s prevailing wage law
• Improve prevailing wage data collected in Maine so it is more up to date and complete
• Strengthen enforcement of Maine’s prevailing wage laws and increase penalties and fines for contractors who cut corners, fail to report wages and benefits or falsify reports
• Lower the dollar threshold when prevailing wages must be paid
Research and data show that prevailing wage laws do not add to construction costs, rather, prevailing wage laws contribute to economic development and stronger, local economies. Prevailing wage laws make local contractors more competitive and enhance local hiring. Without prevailing wage laws, predatory contractors can swoop in and underbid responsible contractors—and that hurts everyone: skilled workers, their families and our local communities and economies
When it comes to a contractor building a project and building a community, there’s a right way and a wrong way. On one hand, there are those who undercut wages, avoid paying taxes, refuse health coverage and deny certified training.
On the other? Those that truly demonstrate that they value their most precious resource: the men and women on the job. It was recently stated by a local government official that the term “Responsible Contracting” offends some contractors out there. Makes you wonder why, doesn’t it? Typical Responsible Contracting benchmarks might require that contractors (and their subs):
• Are fully licensed and bonded
• Have had no wage/hour violations for the past three consecutive years
• Provide OSHA 10-hour safety training
• Participate in a certified apprenticeship program
• Pay prevailing wages and offer health insurance
• Provide all benefits of employment to their workforce (including social security, workers comp, and unemployment insurance
• Comply with all other federal and state regulations
• Have no history of violating this policy in previous public contracts
Sound offensive to you? You’re right, and it doesn’t to us either. That’s why we are fighting to implement Responsible Contracting language in Augusta and in municipalities across Maine.
According to the US Department of Labor, “The misclassification of employees as independent contractors presents one of the most serious problems facing affected workers, employers and the entire economy.”
Here’s the issue: A contractor or subcontractor hires unskilled workers – maybe as carpenters or painters, roofers or insulators – and then calls them “Independent Contractors” to avoid paying benefits and fair wages. They strike a deal and the unskilled worker gets a “1099” form at the end of the year and loses out on having the employer pay social security taxes, disability taxes, and other Federal and State employment taxes. Of course, everyone loses because governments and beneficiaries (you and me) stand to lose payments to funds intended to benefit all workers.
The MSBCTC is working to stop misclassification through legislation in Augusta and by encouraging reporting and enforcement.
We know that as our workforce ages, we must make sure that we are training the next generation of Mainers who will be responsible for building our communities. But we also know that not all training is created equal. That’s why the MSBCTC advocates for contractors to step up and participate in the state-registered program where there are not only guidelines and accountability, but also flexibility and customization.
You have to ask yourself: Why wouldn’t a contractor register their training program with the subject matter experts at the state? If their training is as top-notch as they say, what’s to hide?
Well while we know that no one can force a private contractor to register their program, even if it’s the right thing to do, government entities can mandate registered apprenticeships on any projects that receive public funding. It’s simple: Want to receive taxpayer dollars? Provide this public benefit by creating pathways to the middle class for young men and women.