Read the whole Op-Ed.
GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK'S announcement that the state will substitute civilian flaggers for police details on public-works projects represents a watershed in Massachusetts politics. A Democratic, pro-labor governor taking on one of the state's most powerful unions - who knows where this could
Skeptics characterize the action as more form than substance. The Legislature put locally authorized construction projects (as opposed to state projects) temporarily off limits for civilian flaggers. And the unions ceaselessly argue that the state prevailing wage law will prevent any real savings from being captured.
In fact, the governor has shaken up the status quo. Intentionally or not, he also exposed the much deeper flaws that run through state labor policy.
Consider the unions' argument about the prevailing wage. They point out that the prevailing wage for civilian flaggers is about the same as the cost of hiring police details - an amount approaching $40 per hour. Because contractors have to pay the prevailing wage on public works projects, the state won't save any money by substituting civilian flaggers for police details - or so they argue.
By making this argument, the unions have done us a service. If a law compels the state to spend the equivalent of $80,000 a year for someone to flag down oncoming traffic, then it's time to rethink the law.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Taking on the canard raised by police unions and paid details, we take a look at the prevailing wage.