Significant Changes To Wisconsin’s Prevailing Wage Laws

wisconsin prevailing wage revisions cover photo

Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws were significantly changed as part of the recently signed Wisconsin state budget.  This memo details these developments, which will become effective January 1, 2017.  If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact John Mielke or John Schulze at 608-244-5883.

1. Repeal of prevailing wage for local governments. Local government projects (towns, villages, cities, counties, school districts, technical colleges and municipal utilities) are exempt from prevailing wage laws. Local governments are still prevented from creating their own prevailing wage laws.

2. Projects still covered by prevailing wage.  State of Wisconsin projects (including University of Wisconsin and Department of Transportation State Highway work) are still covered by state prevailing wage laws if they are $48,000 or more for single trade and $100,000 or more for multi-trade.  Federal prevailing wage laws (Davis-Bacon) are still effective on federal projects of $2,000 or more.

3. Excavating / mineral aggregate trucker exemption.  Employees that transport mineral aggregate to a project site or transport excavated material or spoil away from a project site are exempt from prevailing wage laws.

4. Federalization of prevailing wage rates.  Federal “Davis-Bacon” rates will replace any state determination and will be used to set prevailing wage rates on State projects.

5. State agency oversight.  Except for the Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) enforcement of prevailing wage through wage claim enforcement law, state prevailing wage enforcement and administration are assumed by the DOT for state highway projects, and the Department of Administration (DOA) for all other projects.

6. Reform of 3rd Party Complaints.

  1. Only employees performing prevailing wage work can request a DOA or DOT investigation.
  2. An individual who is investigating prevailing wage compliance that is not a DOA, DOT, DWD, or contracting state agency employee must disclose their principal source of funding and provide a written statement that they are unaffiliated with a state agency.
  3. Liquidated damages and debarment for violating state prevailing wage laws are eliminated.
  4. Except for DOT state highway projects, prevailing wage rates and hours are no longer be posted on site.
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