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June 22, 2017

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Missouri Repeals Prevailing Wage Law in Government Contracting

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has signed into law legislation generally forbidding public entities from requiring union wage rates be paid on public construction projects.

The legislation, signed into law on May 30, 2017, and set to become effective August 28, 2017, prohibits the “prevailing wage” (a wage rate calculated from wage and benefit scales set forth in collective bargaining agreements with local unions) from being imposed by localities on publicly funded projects for the “repair, remodeling, or demolition of a facility.” Public entities also cannot discriminate against, encourage, or give preferential treatment to union contractors, or those voluntarily adhering to union wage and benefit rates.

The existing prevailing wage law barred the use of such “prevailing wages” for projects procured by the state. Senate Bill 182 expands that prohibition to cover projects procured by “any political subdivision of the state.” The bill also expands the applicability of the prohibition by eliminating the requirement that a project be more than 50 percent publicly funded to be subject to the law.

Greitens, a Republican political newcomer, campaigned on a business-friendly platform. Greitens signed “right-to-work” legislation just weeks after taking office. Signing of Senate Bill 182 is seen as another campaign promise fulfilled.

Missouri legislators have been pushing both right-to-work and repeal of prevailing wage for years, but the previous governor had vetoed every effort.

Proponents of the repeal claim that the legislation was necessary to provide a level playing field for non-union contractors and that it will save money for local public entities. Opponents argue that the repeal will hurt local workers who now risk losing work to “outside” non-union contractors who can underbid contractors that are bound to union contracts.

The new law provides a legal remedy for violations, including the recovery of attorney’s fees and referral to the local prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney for investigation.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2017


About this Author


Adam C. Doerr is an Associate in the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He represents management in labor and employment matters before state and federal courts, administrative agencies and arbitrators.

Mr. Doerr’s practice involves representing clients in all phases of litigation, including jury and bench trials, dispositive motions, discovery, pre-trial strategy, and client counseling and best practices. Mr. Doerr’s experience includes investigating allegations of employee and managerial misconduct and ...

Philip B. Rosen, Jackson Lewis, Preventive Practices Lawyer, Collective Bargaining Attorney

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is a member of the firm's Board of Directors and co-leads the firm's Labor and Preventive Practices Group. He joined the firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-in-force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation, corporate campaigns and union organizing matters, collective bargaining, arbitration and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He has been quoted by the press on many labor matters, including the National Labor Relations Board’s recent initiatives on protected concerted activity and the proposed Notice Posting requirements.

Thomas Berry, Human Resources, Employment, Management Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Law firm

Thomas E. Berry, Jr. is a Principal in the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Berry’s practice is exclusively focused on representing management before state, federal or local administrative agencies as well as before both state and federal courts throughout the country. His practice is national in scope – he has represented employers in legal proceedings in over twenty different states. Mr. Berry has extensive litigation experience which permits him to effectively counsel and advise clients on a variety of employment related issues in order to ensure...