An advocate for west Michigan working families through collective action, education and community partnerships.
LANSING November 13, 2015– The anti-labor group who was behind the petition drive to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage learned what happens when you hire out-of-state contractors who don’t train their workers or pay them very well.
Protecting Michigan’s Taxpayers, a group funded by billionaire businessmen, hired Colorado-based Silver Bullet, Inc. to collect signatures to repeal the state’s 50-year-old prevailing wage law, but more than 161,000 were ruled invalid. Canvassers are now accused of misleading the public to collect signatures, as well as having people sign multiple times. Calls for a thorough investigation, prosecution and a review of the state’s circulator laws are also underway.
The board officially killed the petition drive Thursday afternoon, voting against certification after reviews by a challenger and the state revealed a large number of duplicate or otherwise invalid signatures.
All told, an estimated 59 percent of the 390,000 or so signatures submitted to the state were valid. That’s a historically low rate, according to Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Chris Thomas, who called it “disturbing.”
Silver Bullet Inc, a Nevada-based company hired to collect signatures, “clearly failed” to ensure that circulators followed a law prohibiting them from knowingly collecting duplicates, Thomas said. He noted 22 circulators had signed the petition more than once.
The bureau still is reviewing the situation, but the names of circulators who broke the law could be turned over to local prosecutors or the attorney general’s office.
Protecting Michigan Jobs, a committee formed to fight the prevailing wage petition drive, hired a high-powered team to conduct an exhaustive signature review. They identified tens of thousands of duplicates and filed a formal challenge.
The group is calling on Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette to conduct thorough investigation of the failed petition drive, including the PMT committee.
“I would start with the top. Fish rots from its head,” spokesman Dave Waymire said.
He called the invalid signatures “evidence of massive amounts of fraud” and questioned why PMT would hire such a “terrible” signature company.
“This is a very serious challenge to our election integrity,” he said.
Michigan’s prevailing wage law requires that contracted workers hired for state-funded projects must receive union wages and be adequately trained. State Sen. Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive), the Lansing politician behind Michigan’s right-to-work law, has said repeatedly that it is his mission to repeal the prevailing wage law in Michigan. From Meehof’s website:
“Since my days as a township official, I have viewed prevailing wages laws as an unnecessary burden on our schools and local communities,” said Meekhof. “It does not make sense that our taxpayers should have to pay more for improvements to our school and municipal buildings. The extra cost of prevailing wage laws siphons money away from other community priorities.”
The law is in place to protect Michigan residents, preventing low-wage and unskilled workers from constructing our roads, bridges, schools and libraries. The fact that an out-of-state company employing low-wage and unskilled workers failed to collect the correct number of signatures should show every Michigan resident the importance of keeping Michigan’s prevailing law in place.