Indiana Senate passes repeal of common construction wage; Gov. Pence expected to sign

Updated Apr 17, 2015

Amid a storm of protest, the Indiana Senate on Wednesday passed the repeal of a state law which sets baseline wages for construction workers on certain public projects.

According to a report from the Indianapolis Star, the Senate voted 27-22 in favor of House Bill 1019. The House passed the bill February 23.

Before passing the bill, the Senate made several changes based on concerns raised by the bill’s many opponents. Less than 24 hours after the Senate’s passage, the House voted 54-40 to send the bill to Gov. Mike Pence. Pence has voiced his support of the repeal and is expected to sign it.

If signed into law, the bill would throw out the current common wage (known in other states as the prevailing wage) system which tasks a board of contractors and taxpayers to set baseline wages for public construction projects worth more than $350,000, the Star reports.

The repeal has sparked quite a bit of ire not only between labor/union supporters and the Republican lawmakers who have pushed the bill through, but also between Republicans in the state themselves. Republicans who support the repeal say allowing the free market to set wages will save taxpayers money, eliminating what they consider unnecessarily high wages union workers earn thanks to the current system.

Union supporters and many Republican lawmakers and contractors have opposed the bill, saying it would likely hurt competition in the state’s construction industry.

On Monday, several thousand construction workers and contractors held a rally on the lawn of the Indiana Statehouse protesting the repeal. Many of those who spoke out against the bill called themselves life-long Republicans, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana.