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Forum Post: Let’s Talk About Some Real Issues- Union Wages and Prevailing Wage

Posted 1 year ago on April 19, 2012, 11:01 p.m. EST by MikeInOhio (13)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

I hear a lot of talk about “living wages” and “fair wages” on this site, and I’m curious to hear a definition of these concepts. Is there a minimum hourly wage that every citizen should be guaranteed?

Here in Ohio I can hire a good carpenter for about $14 per hour. When the same carpenter works on any City, County, State, or Federal project, he makes almost 3 times as much. How is this fair?

I can also hire a general laborer for about $10 per hour. When that same person works on a Federal Highway project, or builds a school, he is paid almost 4 times as much.

Have you looked at the teacher salaries in your school district lately? You can buy a pretty nice house in my area for the yearly salary of a 45 year-old public school teacher. And many of these people will earn more in retirement benefits than they earned in pay during the course of their careers!

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[-] 1 points by DemandTheGoodLifeDotCom (3213) from New York, NY 1 year ago

A fair wage is the same pay that everyone else gets who works the same hours at a job of similar difficulty and effort.

In the US, based on the economy in 2010, that is at least $110 per hour for a physically or mentally difficult job (like construction) and at least $55 for a job that is not difficult.

[-] -1 points by MikeInOhio (13) 1 year ago

Your living in dreamland (or California) if you think those figures are reasonable.

Why doesn't the government just send everyone a billion-dollar check? Because after about 2 days of sending the check your average house will cost 10 billion!

[-] 1 points by DemandTheGoodLifeDotCom (3213) from New York, NY 1 year ago

You can't send everyone a billion dollar check because we do not have enough income to do that. But there is enough income to pay everyone from $55 to $220 per hour.

The numbers I cited above were not pulled out of thin air. They are based on the available income in 2010. If we paid people based on hard work, instead of bargaining power, so that a few at the top weren't able to take the lion's share of the available income and leave everyone else broke, there is enough income to pay everyone from $115k to $460k per year.

Worker productivity is $65 per hour:

http://www.bls.gov/ilc/intl_gdp_capita_gdp_hour.htm#chart04

That means if everyone was paid equally, you would get paid $65 per hour. But since the few at the top unfairly take so much of the income workers produce, 97% of workers make less than $65 per hour.

You can see how the $110/hr and $55/hr incomes were calculated here:

http://occupywallst.org/forum/1-replace-capitalism-with-democracy/#comment-662000

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 1 year ago

The high construction wages in public projects are due to "prevailing wage". If the companies bidding on these projects kept cutting costs including wages to win the contract, wages would suffer. It seems just the opposite is occuring. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevailing_wage

[-] 0 points by MikeInOhio (13) 1 year ago

Wages don't suffer because they are prescribed by law. You have to pay a highway laborer $46 per hour in Ohio. The companies are stuck with the wage.