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From Delegate Eric Householder

By Staff | May 11, 2011

To the Editor:

Would you rather be a teacher or a flagman? A really interesting question considering the job skills of both are completely different. A teacher must complete four years of college and pass several certification exams to be eligible to work as a teacher in the state of West Virginia. A flagman on the other hand, doesn’t even need a high school diploma, and yet makes $15 dollars more per hour than a teacher. How can this be?

How can a non-skilled position that doesn’t have any education requirements make $15 an hour more than a teacher? It’s because of Prevailing Wage rates! That’s right, a flagman makes $36 dollars per hour, while a starting teacher in West Virginia earns approximately $21 dollars per hour. How can we have such a disparity in wages? Prevailing wages are set in each county by the West Virginia Department of Labor, and these rates are to be used during the construction of state roads, schools, jails and county buildings.   

I tried to stop the discriminatory practice of how the prevailing wage is determined by introducing HB 2886, and I asked my colleagues from the other side of the aisle to help me develop a true prevailing wage that reflects local wages. Unfortunately my colleagues on the other side of the aisle decline, however; I did have the support of Delegates John Overington, Jonathan Miller, Daryl Cowles and Larry Kump. 

Refusing to deal with the state prevailing wage rate creates “government protectionism” for union contractors who in turn offer generous campaign contributions to the majority party. So, now you see how our state government influences the wages that creates the disparity in income between a teacher and a flagman. A flagman will make $72,000 per year, while a new teacher will make $33,000. It’s time to “STOP” playing games with the taxpayer’s money and “GO” develop a true prevailing wage rate that accurately reflects local wages and skills. 

Delegate Eric Householder, 56th District

Charleston, W.Va.