It seems hardly a day goes by without more news of New York taxpayers being squeezed by union-friendly laws. This time, it’s for government construction projects.
An Empire Center report last week noted that the state and local governments paid twice the 17 percent inflation rate for job compensation at public construction projects between 2007 and 2017. Thank New York’s “prevailing wage” law for that.
The law requires payouts that are generally above market rates, and it counts fringe benefits as “wages.” Notably, the report said, most of the increases in costs were for pension and health-care costs.
The result? Project price tags soared: “The law drives up building construction costs by at least 13 to 25 percent,” the center’s E.J. McMahon wrote. “The actual payments for fringe benefits alone have translated into hundreds of millions of dollars in added taxpayer cost.”
In the city, he reports, the building trades’ lowest-paid workers saw their hourly wages jump from $34.89 to $41.50 an hour — but their fringe benefits soared from $22.71 to $40.60.
In every region of the state but Long Island, benefits accounted for more than half the uptick. By comparison, at construction jobs nationally, fully three-quarters of the increase went to actual wages.
All this means more money from taxpayers, and fewer projects. But it also means more union political support and campaign donations for New York pols. And to them, it seems, that is what matters most.