In a rejection of the union friendly policies of former Governor Ted Strickland, the Ohio School Facilities Commission (“OSFC”) recently voted to no longer support union-scale wage requirements on OSFC funded projects. Prior to the Strickland administration, local school districts were not allowed to require prevailing wage rates or project labor agreements on construction projects. Although the Strickland administration did not mandate union-scale wages on OSFC projects, the decision on whether to require prevailing wages or project labor agreements was left entirely to the discretion of the school districts undertaking new construction.
Prevailing wage rates are essentially the applicable labor rates under union collective bargaining agreements for particular trades and localities. In comparison, project labor agreements are pre-hire agreements for specific construction projects which, among other things, impose prevailing wage rates and other employment conditions.
During the Strickland administration, the executive director of the OSFC, Richard C. Murray, was viewed by many non-union contractors as an active supporter of prevailing wage rates on school construction projects. In fact, in 2010 a lawsuit was initiated by a group of Ohio taxpayers alleging that members of the Strickland administration, organized labor, and Murray used the OSFC and school building contracts to pressure school districts to impose prevailing wages and/or project labor agreement on OSFC projects. Governor John Kasich has since replaced Murray, and the OSFC’s vote has reinstituted the policy which was in place before Governor Ted Strickland took office in January 2007.