The Palatine Township Board is wrong

Photo via palatinetowship.com under Creative Commons license

Michael Smith, News Editor

The Palatine Township newsletter arrived in my mail today. It always provides me with some humorous relief. This week, my chuckle came from page four from an excerpt entitled “Palatine Township Reluctantly Passes Prevailing Wage Act.”

The excerpt, written by Palatine Township trustee Bill Pohlman, condemned the Act saying that they are being “forced” by the State of Illinois to pay adequate wages to contractors on public work projects. How terrible.

The Prevailing Wage Act, for those not familiar with obscure 1940s General Assembly laws, is a mandate by the state government saying that townships and municipalities must have contractors pay construction workers a slightly higher wage than one would expect in order to prevent labor disputes that delay public works programs. It seems pretty logical, right?

Not to the Palatine Township Board, who have decided to prioritize efforts to “control spending and keep down taxes” over the good of public contractor’s employees livelihoods. To them, the Act forces contractors to pay unskilled workers more than the private sector would, which is “unfair.” I must note that these are companies who are being paid taxpayer dollars to fulfill public works project. If they get our money, it is not “unfair” for us to demand they pay their workers decently.

Another issue addressed in the excerpt was how this law “forces adherence to union work rules.” You know, union work rules, like a safe work environment, reasonable hours and job training aka the apparent bane of our existence. Trustee Bill Pohlman must believe that some jobs should simply be considered less important. I agree. I just think that job might be Board Trustee.

Finally, after defending the poor companies and tackling those pesky laborers, the Board added that the prevailing wage mandate was going to increase the cost of public work projects. This is a fair point.

But another fair point is that while costs may increase from a wage increase, the overall job will be done better. Employees who are paid prevailing wages are better trained, safer, more productive, and less disruptive. Overall, this would keep a cost increase to a minimum.

In the end, I would just like to throw out there that maybe the Palatine Township newsletter (paid through taxpayer money) is just a platform for the Palatine Township Board to complain and pat themselves on the back.

The Palatine Township Board excerpt can be found online at
http://patch.com/illinois/palatine/letter-editor-palatine-township-reluctantly-passes-prevailing-wage-act