Southern Millwrights Bring Prevailing Wage Support to the Arkansas Capital

A group of leaders from the Southern States Millwright Regional Council (SSMRC) is leading the charge to protect Arkansas middle-class working families from a threat to their right to earn a fair wage. Wayne Jennings, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the SSMRC, recently dispatched the group to the Arkansas State Capital to lobby against Senate Bill 601, which is meant to repeal the Arkansas prevailing wage law.

The law requires the Arkansas Department of Labor to issue a wage determination for public works projects where the cost of all labor and materials exceeds $75,000. The wage determination establishes a minimum wage for laborers and mechanics employed on public works projects, which assures fair bidding among contractors, fair wages for skilled craftsmen, and quality construction for the public.

SSMRC Chief of Staff Rick Halford, Political Director Miguel Fuentes, Communications Director Derek Donahou, and Council Attorney Jay Youngdahl met with state republican Senator Bart Hester, who is sponsoring the Bill. The Millwrights were accompanied by Arkansas AFL-CIO President Alan Hughes, and met the evening before with Arkansas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Jessica Akers to coordinate their efforts.

left to right: Donahou, Hutchinson, Youngdahl, Fuentes, Halford

“This is a threat to every working man and woman in this state. Not having prevailing wage protection will erode the quality of life for Arkansas craftsmen and their families. It also undermines the quality of work done on critical public construction projects such as buildings, roads, and bridges. That affects the safety of the workers and the safety of the citizens using these facilities,” Jennings said.

No prevailing wage also negatively affects funding for professional skills training for local construction workers. A lack of training means a lack of job opportunities for Arkansas workers. Specifically, military veterans are at heightened risk, because they often rely upon prevailing wage laws to help them secure a career that will support themselves and their families once they leave the service. 

In addition to meeting with Senator Hester, the SSMRC group presented their position to a number of other state legislators. They also spent time with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to state their concerns and offer alternative solutions to repealing the law.

“The bottom line is, prevailing wage helps keep men and women working and providing for their families. Repealing this law is a serious mistake and we are committed to protecting all working men and women of Arkansas by opposing this legislation,” Jennings added.

Get involved!

SB601 is now under consideration by the Arkansas Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor. Arkansas citizens are urged to contact members of this committee and tell him or her that keeping Arkansas’ prevailing wage law in place is important. Tell them that you want Senate Bill 601 to be defeated.  

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