The PA Chamber joined several employer associations submitting an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in a prevailing wage case that has significant implications on Pennsylvania’s employers and economy.
This past June, the Prevailing Wage Appeals Board ruled that construction projects undertaken by Ursinus College, a private college based in Collegeville, were subject to the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, which mandates workers on public projects be paid a pre-determined wage that is often artificially inflated and can significantly increase costs. The Board ruled that prevailing wage applied, despite the school’s private status, because the projects were financed by bonds issued by the Montgomery County Higher Education and Health Authority.
This decision, if upheld, would harm communities, economic development and employers from a range of industries. The case was appealed to Commonwealth Court and the PA Chamber partnered with several associations supporting Ursinus including the PA Municipal Authorities Association, the PA Waste Industries Association, PA Council of General Contractors and LeadingAge PA, which represents nonprofit assisting living facilities.
Their brief argues prevailing wage is only intended to apply when the public entity has a close relationship to a project, either as a contracting party or funder. For Ursinus, the Montgomery County Higher Education and Health Authority had no funding responsibility or relationship beyond facilitating the bonds. The brief outlines likely negative impacts on municipal authorities and the non-profit entities with whom they work to obtain low-cost financing.
According to the brief, “The Board’s holding essentially requires private entities to pay prevailing wage without obtaining the benefit of any public funding. The result is likely to be a reduction in private construction projects that affect the public good and a diminished role for municipal authorities.”
The PA Chamber will continue to report on this case as it proceeds.