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What Michigan Republicans REALLY think of skilled labor

If you are as hapless a spectator as I am to the realm of human endeavor known as “the skilled trades,” you probably have two questions for those who practice the obscure arts of plumbing, masonry, carpentry and electrical wiring: 1) What do you mean you can’t attend to my home repair crisis today?   2) Why do you charge so damn much money?  As it happens, the answers to these questions are not unrelated. More: Prevailing wage repealed by Republicans in the Michigan Legislature More: Michigan Supreme Court gives boost to prevailing wage bill Skilled tradespeople are hard to find (and hard to keep on the job) because the demand for their services typically exceeds the supply, particularly in Michigan.  Their services tend to be expensive (relative to those of say, restaurant workers, social media consultants, and state legislators) for the same reason: There are simply more of the latter in urgent need of a good plumber than vice versa. Pragmatic Republicans led by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder have been fretting about the dwindling supply of skilled tradespeople here for several years now; they say they’re determined to do something about it. Another blow for labor:Prevailing wage repealed by Republicans in Michigan Legislature More: Voters will decide marijuana legalization after Legislature fails to act   Snyder, in particular, sees his initiative to boost the number of highly trained tradespeople as the solution to two pressing problems: The shortage of labor needed to tackle $4 billion worth of overdue infrastructure repair and improvements, and the need for a tax base large and prosperous enough to pay for them. If you happened to be eavesdropping last week on the major employers and GOP donors who flock to the Mackinac Policy Conference each year, you would have heard many of them talking about carpenters, masons and electricians in the most appreciative terms, almost as if skilled tradespeople were fellow human beings with families to support and legitimate claims to a prosperous middle-class life. You might have seen Snyder’s would-be successor, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, tell a Grand Hotel audience that “Every plumber needs an accountant, and every accountant needs a plumber” — Calley’s favorite iteration of the proposition that those who snake our clogged toilets are professionals no less skilled, hard-working and deserving of a living wage than those who make sure we’re taking advantage of every tax deduction we’re entitled to claim. And you might have concluded that a majority of Michigan Republicans regard denizens of the skilled trades as altogether more meritorious than the public educators, environmentalists and Medicaid recipients they delight in disparaging.  But a few hours in the chambers of the Republican-led Michigan Senate and House of Representatives would have dispelled any such delusion. That’s where a scant majority of GOP legislators collaborated Wednesday to repeal a 50-year-old law that had bound the state and other government contractors to pay prevailing union wages to workers employed on public construction projects. These would be the economic literacy-challenged lawmakers who fail to grasp the critical nexus between supply and demand, but whose resentment of plumbers and electricians who earn more than they do runs high. And who can blame them? After all, we Michiganders might be able to get by with a lot fewer plumbers and electricians, but who among us can imagine a state without Republican lawmakers? Wait a minute … Do you suppose they’ve got that backward? Snyder had warned that the repeal of prevailing wage, a sop to non-union builders and contractors who championed it, would undermine his efforts to increase the supply of skilled tradespeople in the state. Anti-union Republicans who supported it knew they didn’t have the votes to override a gubernatorial veto, so they relied on contracting firms and conservative free-market groups to bankroll an initiative to put the issue before voters this November. Problem is, polling suggested that voters oppose repealing the prevailing wage requirement at least as vehemently as Snyder does. By adopting the proposal themselves after it had amassed (barely) the 250,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, GOP legislators both preempted a popular referendum and dodged the threat of a veto, since Michigan law renders Snyder powerless to thwart legislation brought before lawmakers via the petition process. (And yes, alert readers, this is the same Legislature that had opted the previous day not to preempt a popular vote on legalizing marijuana, on grounds that to do so would be an anti-democratic end run around their constituents’ druthers. How dmake sense of this flagrant contradiction, except by concluding that the nascent marijuana industry has yet to match the building contractors’ skill in buying off legislators?) So the prevailing wage law is dead, the most skilled tradespeople will be drawn to more remunerative opportunities outside Michigan, and there’s not a thing Rick Snyder or you can do about it.   Unless you happen to be a plumber fielding an emergency home repair call from Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive), who masterminded the legislative crusade to put uppity tradespeople in their place:  “A broken sump pump, Senator? That’s terrible. We can get someone out to look at it — well, how about never? Does never work for you?”   Brian Dickerson in the Free Press’ editorial page editor. Contact him at                              
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Speedway hosts 4 divisions Friday

After nearly a month off, Silver Dollar Speedway series returns to the track. Friday night, the winged 360 sprint cars, street stocks, hobby stocks and IMCA sport mods will attack the wide open, high banked quarter-mile clay oval race track. Pit gate will open at 4 p.m. for the competitors, and the grandstand gate opens at 6 p.m. Racing is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, juniors and seniors $12, children ages 6-11 $6 and kids 5 and under are free. College students with proper identification can get in for $6 during all weekly point races. Auburn’s Andy Forsberg …
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‘She had to fight rodents off so her kids could eat,’ apt. complex to be inspected by officials

An apartment complex on Cleveland’s east side with documented issues including mold, mice, faulty plumbing and electrical outlets will undergo a massive inspection later this month, according to City Councilman Kevin Conwell. An apartment complex on Cleveland’s east side with documented issues including mold, mice, faulty plumbing and electrical outlets will undergo a massive inspection later this month, according to City Councilman Kevin Conwell. Residents have described the living conditions at Park Place Apartments as deplorable and unfit for inhabitation. RELATED: …
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Celebration for New Campground at Lake Vermilion

Commissioner Tom Landwehr said, “I expect this is going to be one the parks you need to book a year in advance to get a spot.” They have installed WiFi throughout the campground. Plus there’s energy-efficient technology in place, like solar panels on buildings and some on-demand plumbing systems. “This is an amazing place for you to spend time and create memories with your families,” Landwehr added.  Plus, it’s near the Soudan Underground Mine, a popular tourist destination. And a nod to the area’s rich history of mining. Tom Bakk, the state senator from C…
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Campground Complete in Minnesota’s Newest State Park

It’s Minnesota’s newest state park and the campground is now complete in the Lake Vermillion–Soudan Underground Mine State Park. To enjoy by providing a new place for everyone to call their place at the lake,” director of trails Erica Rivers said. Campers can choose from three group camps and 33 drive-in campsites at Vermilion Ridge Campground. Nearby hiking trails lead to Vermillion Lake and public access to enjoy an afternoon on Cable Bay. The design of the park is wheelchair accessible. “Try and make this park available to everybody,”Department of Natural Re…
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Fayette County spent $100K on closed jail

FAYETTE COUNTY, TN (WMC) – One Mid-South county says it has dished out more than $100,000 since its jail shut down three weeks ago. Fayette County Sheriff’s Department is thankful its jail is once again operational. Plumbing and electrical problems closed the jail May 20. Inmates were sent to neighboring counties to be housed while repairs were made in Fayette County. They are expected to return early next week. Captain Ricky Wilson said his department is still operating and serving Fayette County. “The county is still functioning, still arresting people, and they’re still taking them in…
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 Posted on : June 8, 2018

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