Missouri’s prevailing wage law sets the minimum wage rate that is required to be paid on all public works projects in the state. These include the construction of roads, bridges and government buildings paid out of state or local government funds. In 2011, a decision of the Missouri Supreme Court expanded the definition of “construction,” bringing more projects within the prevailing wage law’s scope. A measure introduced this session in the Missouri Senate sought a return to a more narrow application of the law. Now, Senate Democrats opposed to the bill have successfully blocked a vote on it.

Under the current prevailing wage law, maintenance work is exempt from wage requirements. The bill that was blocked would have expanded the types of projects considered to be maintenance work. Under the proposed legislation, any work that was routine, usual and recurring in nature and did not exceed $75,000 in cost would have been considered maintenance work and therefore exempt from prevailing wage requirements. Prevailing wages would have been required only for work not meeting those criteria.

Senate Democrats opposed the proposed legislation because they said it redefined maintenance work too broadly. As a result, they argued, government entities would have been able to complete construction projects without paying the prevailing wage.

The prevailing wage law is considered to be an important tool for creating a level playing field among businesses and for preventing unfair and abusive employment practices. If a worker on a public construction project is not being paid the correct prevailing wage, he or she could file a complaint with the Missouri Division of Labor Standards. Complaints will be investigated, and if a violation is found, the worker will be entitled to back pay wages based on the difference between the amount paid and the applicable prevailing wage rate.

Source: CBS St. Louis, “Mo. Senate Democrats Block Changes to Prevailing Wage”, May 14, 2013