Michigan’s prevailing wage law requires contractors who bid on state, school and local government construction projects to pay wages based on union pay scales. In practice, contractors and public officials get the required wage rates from complex pay schedules and job classifications provided by union officials.

For example, in Jackson County, there are 24 different pay classifications just for a boilermaker who has up to four years of experience.

The state agency in charge has identified well over 500,000 different wage classifications in Michigan. Yet, there are a total of 162,000 construction workers in the entire state, according to information from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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As part of our efforts on government transparency, we obtained data on the compensation of most public employees in the state. This information has been used to fact check claims about salaries, verify data from other open records requests, and hold government spending accountable.

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