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TN's New Year's Resolution: Hurt Workers, Undermine Prevailing Wage Law

All new year law changes aren’t good new year law changes. And Tennessee has the wage-slashing provision to prove it.

2014 signaled the end of the state’s longstanding prevailing wage law, insofar as the government is concerned. Businesses are not prevented from paying it, but they’re no longer required to.

State Senator Jack Johnson, the chief agent of change, claimed last year that the prevailing wage “stifled competition among contractors, made building projects too expensive and wasn’t necessary.” He told Nashville Public Radio, “In the private sector we don’t have a prevailing wage in Tennessee, we have a minimum wage. And the private sector seems to do quite well.”

Well, that depends how you determine “well.” In 2011, Tennessee ranked 45th in median household income at $41,693.

The unprevailing comes on the heels of metro council members calling on Nashville Mayor Kevin Dean to pay prevailing wages (and hire locally) on the new downtown baseball stadium. The stadium was approved by the council last month.  

Tennessee laborers working on highway projects will still be paid prevailing wages.  A failure to pay the wage on such projects would result in a loss of federal highway funding.

Go to TN State Page
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