On April 5, 2015, the 2016 prevailing wage surveys were mailed by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MNDOLI), seeking data for the wages paid to construction workers between April 4, 2015 and June 3, 2016 for all 87 Minnesota counties, public or private construction, highway or heavy construction, commercial and residential. Surveys are only being accepted through June 3, 2016. You can submit your survey online here, or download it and email or mail it. MNDOLI also collects this information directly from union representatives.
Why should Minnesota contractors submit the survey?
This is nonunion contractor’s chance to have a voice in setting the wages – if you don’t submit the form, the union wages will apply. However, the system is flawed because Minnesota, unlike virtually every other state, uses the “mode” method of determining the prevailing wages. Minn. Rule 5200.1050. Accordingly, in order for nonunion contractor wages to prevail, the majority must be paying the same wage – which we all know in the real world hardly ever happens even within an company. You may have 4 laborers at $20/hr, 1 at $20.15, 4 at $20.25 and so forth. Yet, if you don’t respond at all, you risk the chance that your wages could have prevailed. Notably, Minnesota is aware of this problem – a 2007 Evaluation Report – Prevailing Wages by Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor concluded that the way Minnesota collects data is flawed, and that the State must do a better job to get contractors to respond to the prevailing wage surveys.
How Are Prevailing Wages Set In Minnesota?
In Minnesota, the prevailing wage rate is set by MNDOLI, which must be “comparable to wages paid for similar work in the community as a whole”. Minn. Stat. 177.41. Specifically, the “prevailing wage rate” is the “hourly basic rate of play plus the contribution paid to or for the largest number of workers engaged in the same class of labor within the area…” Minn. Stat. 177.42. This means the Minnesota prevailing wage rate is based on “actual wage rates paid to the largest number of workers” in each class reported – if there is an equal amount of workers, the larger wage applies. While the majority of sates use the average method, Minnesota is only one (1) of five (5) states that uses the simple mode method to calculate prevailing wage rates. For example, in Minnesota if there are 8 workers at $10, 4 workers at $11, 5 workers at $20/hr and 5 workers at $30/hr, the prevailing wage rate will be $30/hr – even though the majority of workers make less than $11/hr.