The story of how a simple and necessary public works project became a full-blown boondoggle is a classic tale of government excess and regulatory insanity.
The ultimate source of funding for the Fallkill cleanup is a federal National Emergency Grant, whose terms require paying wages at the highest of the federal, state or local minimum wage or at the comparable rates of pay for individuals employed in similar occupations by the same employer.
The state Labor Department decided that this meant the prevailing wage for public-works projects. But “prevailing wage” is a term of art that actually means a pay rate based on collective-bargaining agreements between labor unions and private employers.
For the Mid-Hudson region, the prevailing hourly rate for laborers comes to $51.71 — $30.71 in wages plus $21 in benefits. But the temporary workers on the Fallkill won’t be union members, so they’ll get the entire amount as a wage, the Labor Department ruled.
Read the whole thing, and weep. HT: Regina