A rising prevailing wage sinks all ships

Hey THC fans, checking back in with an update on our post from this past weekend on ridiculously high prevailing wages and the impact that they have on Humboldt’s hopes for affordable housing.

A number of responses came in that absolutely blasted the prevailing wage requirements being proposed in the state legislature by union shills like Kansen Chu, the sponsor of CA Bill 199, which would add a whole laundry list of private housing projects to the type of development subject to paying prevailing wages. Just as a reminder, those types of restrictions are what makes building affordable housing nearly impossible for the private sector, and since the public sector clearly isn’t doing enough to address the housing shortage, Californians are desperate for just such involvement from private developers.

Among the points raise by a few of your fellow readers are that the inflated building costs from prevailing wage applied to current projects could easily be going to shore up issues with roads, public safety, the environment, you name it – but instead those funds are going towards ensuring that Californians have to fight tooth and nail for housing in addition to sub-par services.

Another reader wrote in pointing out the exhaustive amount of funds that go towards over seeing the prevailing wage program, and just how much more effective that money could be spent on housing projects or elsewhere, rather than giving laborers wages that are generally at least three times above the normal wages for any given area.

We even had a THC tipster write in with even more up-to-date specifics about prevailing wages than we were able to turn up. They wanted to make sure that we told all you good readers out there that Humboldt County’s sheet metal workers are officially the highest prevailing wage earners in the area, and pull in a whopping $101.36 per hour.

For reference, that’s just slightly below the same rate that Humboldt’s Health and Human Services Director, Connie Beck, would make if she were paid hourly.

Here’s a link to the full story from the weekend.

Prevailing wage set to sink Humboldt’s Affordable Housing?

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21 Responses to A rising prevailing wage sinks all ships

  1. Ronerville ron says:

    This is obscene. Just think about it, taxpayers paying 101.36 hr for someone to put up a gutter ! WTF. And that’s not what’s being charged by the companies, I’m sure their rate is much higher. Doesn’t it make more sense to pay like 25 hr and put the other 75 hr savings to other needed causes. This is politics at its worst


  2. sandserat says:

    Pretty low-brow of THC going after workers wages in a period
    where the workers have been royally screwed since R.R. destroyed the middle-
    class. Remember what we called the “American Wage?” Don’t hear that chestnut anymore.

    You have to dig pretty deep to go after Labor in these times.


  3. Arcatan says:

    Spoken like a true public employee. “More for me! Who gives a shit about your grandchildren anyway”.


    • I did not realize that my job hurts not only children, but now grandchildren.

      My God. The humanity. And here I was thinking I was helping people, turns out that by drawing a living wage, paying into the local economy, having paid weekends, vacations, holidays, sick days and family days, and having some discretionary time to comment on blogs I was harming other people’s grandchild.

      WTF is wrong with me and others like me? I’m sorry Arcatan! Please accept my less-than totally sincere apologies!


      • Arcatan says:

        Jon, If you are unable to see that the massive and ever increasing public debt from unsustainable government spending without enough income that is being placed on the backs of future generations is bad for our children and grandchildren then I humbly suggest a basic economics course. No doubt you believe that all we need do is restructure our tax structure in a manner you feel to be more equitable and all will be well. While I am sure to disagree with your new distribution of tax liability that isn’t the point. As of now we are simply not collecting taxes sufficient to cover expenditures. Whether the solution is to raise taxes or to reduce expenditures can be debated but meanwhile we are not doing either. The failure to act in either direction is what harms future generations. Should the public vote for more taxes, so be it, but until they do we simply cannot afford to continue spending at the current rate.


  4. Dearest fever swampers,

    Never forget that these are cherry-picked numbers towards an agenda. The agenda isn’t affordable housing, the market will price housing. The same home in an exurb of Dallas will be cheaper than that home in Dallas itself or in Eureka. The price of labor has very little to do with the price of the home.

    So we have one number to get upset about. $100/hr. And it’s conveniently linked to Connie Beck’s salary, the Director of the DHHS.

    Remember all, you were the ones who supported removing the me-too clause that would have helped reduce increasing salaries of the chosen few in government. I know you all despise government workers equally and a me-too clause sounds distasteful because it runs the risk of raising all government employee’s salaries, but, it was an effect means of keeping down outrageous and politically correct (from a conservative point of view) salaries.

    I, a liberal, am with you against outrageous higher salaries in government and in the private sector. I’m sorry doctors, as one example, but I know we can train good doctors who would be happy to work and serve in a rural area like Humboldt because of market forces AND because of altruism. What is needed is more doctors.

    Same thing for administrators or sheet metalers or eligibility supervisors.

    So here is the thing. Please drop the act. Say what it is you want and why you want it. You want lower wages so you can make greater profits on a development. Without those profits, you don’t have any interest in building that development. (BTW, not against profits, just would like us to be clear on the nature of the profits – are we talking about $5 per hour of job creating or $100)

    What about this. What about if we make public not only your names, but you salaries and or profit/loss statements of your business? Land use is public policy after-all and if you are going to use public information against public employees, why not have it apply to the private sector too.

    If you are not willing to do that, please grow a conscience and realize that you are cherry picking information to push a very narrow agenda without even the common decency of saying what it is you are actually fighting for.

    Happy Saturday all.



    • Cousin Eddiie says:

      “The price of labor has very little to do with the price of the home.”

      On what planet is that LMOB?

      “Winckel argues that any building permit in the state is basically an agreement with a political subdivision. His association predicts pay the prevailing wage would add roughly $90,000 to the cost of building a 2,000-square-foot house in San Diego County.”

      I guess 90K isn’t much if you’re a sheet metal worker or county employee!



      • Rusty says:

        The price of labor has little to do with the price of the home.
        That’s a Jedi mind trick of the left.
        THC is talking about the new home construction. Existing home Price’s are driven by market conditions, supply and demand. Labor and materials has everything to do with new home construction. Fortunately the Force is weak with this one.


  5. a) This is not about affordable housing. If there is another conservative value, such as property rights, which conflicts with affordable housing, THC and his readers will side with the property rights side of the ledger. (See Measure V)

    b) This is about a war on workers and their ability to bargain collectively (ie unions). You might appreciate workers themselves, shoot, you probably enjoy knocking back a Joe’s Flaccid Whiskey with them. But when they are uppity and demand a reasonable piece of the pie for their work, well then all hell breaks lose.

    Does a fair wage constitute more than a little of the price of a home?

    I just ate 10% of a pie. Is that a lot? Let’s say I add 5% on so that I’m actually full, is that anything but a little piece of the pie?

    Let’s say $90K is the amount of a price of the home that goes to labor. What % of the home is that? What % of that is the amount that will be paid to insure a living wage?

    Example A:
    Lookit, I haven’t heard word one from you all about other factors to increasing land and home values. Here is one from a couple of years ago re: Weed Inc. and the prevailing land values for Humboldt County. Don’t you think these have a greater affect on home values than the extra you will pay to promote living wages for your workers?

    Why the silence? A: because this isn’t about prices, this is about profit.


    Example B:
    And what about prevailing market prices? Do they really have an affect. I mean if we could just build a home with cheap labor wouldn’t that mean home prices would necessarily drop substantially? No. Home prices are based on what people will pay for a home. That extra money between what the home sells for on the open market and what the developer was able to build it for is the what all this hullabaloo is really about.

    There are only a few people in this county who care about that difference, the difference between what building a home costs and the market value. Most of us are concerned about the market value itself. The fact that THC readers are so concerned about the build value tells me a whole lot about what you all do and why you all have this narrow agenda.

    And for the record, a narrow agenda that kills the grandchildren of workers. I don’t understand why you all hate grandchildren so much.

    Happy Sunday!


  6. From a twitterer (Kim-Mai Cutler) interested in housing values from Friday…

    “On the big shift from housing as shelter to housing as asset & commodity in the 1970s, 1980s”

    Lookit, I don’t believe building and construction trade unions, or even unions in general are always right. I believe there are major problems that need to be address. However, you are not helping address these problems. You are using faux concerns (ie affordable housing) to serve your purpose. Once you are done with that game and you really wish to address the problems of unaffordable housing, please let me know. Our children and grandchildren really do deserve a real discussion to create a fair and just economy.


  7. Rusty says:

    Bullshit, that is mmmmhh.
    If JLF Construction is Forced to pay prevailing wage to all his employees I’m pretty sure he’ll just close up shop, bye bye to a lot of jobs and a domino effect through that community. Same with many local construction companies. Prevailing wage is already mandatory on all public work’s projects. That means anything paid with tax payers monies, public funds, EVERYTHING, from the smallest plumbing fix, to janitorial contract, to major highway projects. That means the average home has a plumber come out for a simple job it’s going to cost a couple hundred bucks. Same call to a State building is going to be $500.00 to a $1,000. Any Contractor doing business with the State must register with and pay D.I.R $ 400.00 per year to bid on pubic works projects. Even if the contractor is not the successful bider. Even if the contractor is a sole proprietor with no employees. If a Contractor bids on a public work’s project without being registered that Contractor is fined $ 2000.00 win or lose. No privately funded housing projects need be saddled with this bureaucratic nightmare of the wage Nazis.
    Local Contractors pay wages based on experience and merit. Most Carpenters are all around worker’s meaning they do it all. From framing to flooring, roofing to plumbing, concrete to fencing. I personally have a licensed General Contractor who charges 40.00 dollars per hour to do work for me. That means he would build me a house for that, he’d need help of course but that help would not be more than 40.00 per hr. I think he’s worth more but he won’t hear of it. I personally charge 100.00 per hr but I come with trucks and equipment and a helper. So paying a gutter hanger $100.00 per hr is going to make just the gutters on the average home triple. So pretty much your housing prices are going to triple. $300,000 home become a $900,000 home. Game Over.
    T.HC.s agenda in my opinion is trying to inform us before it’s too late. We don’t want higher costs so more people can afford a home, ie affordable housing.
    Frankly Connie’s underpaid for what she deals with in HR alone.


    • THC.s agenda in my opinion is trying to inform us before it’s too late. We don’t want higher costs so more people can afford a home, ie affordable housing.

      Then why haven’t they mention, as one example, the affect Weed Inc. has on property values, or for that matter the fact housing has become more of commodity than shelter? This isn’t about information, this is about a very narrow agenda posing as concern about affordable housing. The goal is to attack government or unions as the culprits to our economic woes, not to actually lower rents or home prices. Again, please see his arguments for Measure V if you doubt me.


  8. Jon, If you are unable to see that the massive and ever increasing public debt from unsustainable government spending without enough income that is being placed on the backs of future generations is bad for our children and grandchildren then I humbly suggest a basic economics course.


    This is an issue with me, more so than many liberals I’d imagine. I’d like to be a budget hawk. And, I’ll concede that the Democrats are not doing a good enough job of selling necessary things like increased middle class taxes (ie removing mortgage tax breaks) to help pay for the type of public policies the richest country in history deserves.

    Having said that you do understand The Grover Principle of drowning government in a bath-tub. If Democrats play Santa Clause politics by trying to create economic safety nets, Republicans play it by cutting taxes when they have no right to if they are truly the budget hawks they pretend to be.

    AND since Reagan, we haven’t been expanding our safety-net programs (per capita), the deficits have been increased because of decreasing taxes for those who can most afford to pay them, while also cutting taxes sufficiently for middle and lower economic classes just enough to sell the tax cuts for the wealthy.

    If you don’t believe me, please pay attention to the GOP right now.

    AND the deficit/budget is but ONE of an infinite number of considerations we should be taking stock of when considering our grandchildren’s lives. What about choice in housing (urban vs exurban), a solid democracy (education, voting rights, etc.), PROTECTING OUR NATURAL RESOURCES (see GPU debates), climate change, paying for a social safety net that will help families cope with economic uncertainty during their grandchildren’s most vulnerable (and important) years?

    Again, THC and his readers are about a very narrow agenda. Its about decreasing the influence of the public sector and unions so a few, anonymous people can milk our economic system for all it’s worth.

    I’d hope when we all think about life in Humboldt County when you and I are gone, we are not giving priority simply to the deficit. It’s a thing, no doubt, but it’s not everything and I’d argue despite the rhetoric, the Republicans are the ones not being honest with their voters – the voters who wish to have stuff like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, infrastructure, a public education system, and yes, even the ACA.



    • Arcatan says:

      Just out of curiosity. Would you ever consider responding to the point or question being asked rather than the one to which you’d prefer to respond?


      • Just out of curiosity. Would you ever consider responding to the point or question being asked rather than the one to which you’d prefer to respond?

        Arcatan: I’m starting to think either a) you are trolling me or b) you think staying on subject means agreeing with one another.

        You and I are clearly not going to agree on much if anything. When people disagree, there is the subject (yours is taxes, debt, deficit) and context (how we define priorities for the future). You saw the original subject and context as taxes. You obviously prioritize taxes very highly as a policy goal for the future. I addressed your subject, told you I don’t disagree but your subject is if not a low priority, one that must be balanced with many other priorities which you are completely disregarding.

        One of the reasons why your original statement “More for me! Who gives a shit about your grandchildren anyway” is so obnoxious is b/c you are inferring that taxes/deficit/budget is the one concern that defines our children’s future. That is patently absurd and I’m going to call you out on it by addressing your concern, acknowledging that it is important, talking about both sides of the aisle (not equally) playing the Santa Claus game (given voters what they want but not being accountable for a balanced budget) and then reminding you about all the things you missed in your original, offensive statement.

        As Cousin Eddie and I have written about, this is re-framing and I believe it is an important part of disagreeing. Think of it as not only rebutting your point, but coming up with a solution from a different point of view. I address your point for what I believe it’s worth and then move on to put your point in context and try to help readers, if not you, understand a bigger picture.

        Because Arcatan, in the end, I believe THC and it’s conservative readers like yourself are myopically focused to the detriment of our future. In other words, if you focus entirely on taxes, deficits and debts (or anti-government anti-regulatory ant union politics) when considering your grandchildren, I’d argue you don’t give a shit about them or our shared future.


  9. Cousin Eddie says:

    the deficits have been increased because of decreasing taxes for those who can most afford to pay them, while also cutting taxes sufficiently for middle and lower economic classes just enough to sell the tax cuts for the wealthy.

    bull sh– LMOB…

    “Income growth is slowing for the highest-earning Californians.

    That’s the single biggest driver of the $1.6-billion deficit projected on a $179.5-billion overall budget by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday. And once again it is raising the question of whether California has grown too reliant on taxing rich people with often wildly fluctuating incomes.

    “We are lining ourselves up for a massive budgetary crisis. It’s a function of when and not if,” said Chris Thornberg, co-founder of Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm. “It’s hard to feel bad for someone whose income goes from $2 million to $1 million in a year, but the reality is that is going to have a tremendous impact on our budget.”

    The top 10% of earners — who made an average of $404,184 in 2014 — paid 79% of all personal income tax revenue that year, up from 70% two decades ago.”


    seems the tax on wealthy has gone up, not down, LMOB.


    • I was talking about national budgets Cuz. California is doing a better job of capturing taxes of higher earners despite the Reaganomics of our increasingly regressive national tax structure.

      Here is a thought Cuz. What about wealth? We’re only talking about income, but the inherent problem with our economic (and increasingly political) system is it does not allow for a sustainable distribution of wealth. I know we’ve heard a great deal about how liberals would like to conduct class warfare, but in actuality the reverse is happening. Those with wealth or capital can make money on both their labor and their capital. Those with their health only have their labor to earn money.

      That is the crises that is approaching, not a budgetary one. Imho.

      And in light of my conversation with Arcatan, I don’t know enough about CA’s budget in context (such as how the economy is doing, how it’s doing compared to previous years and converting it to % of State GDP (if there is such a thing)) to comment further without doing more reading, something I don’t have time to do right now. Maybe later.


  10. Cousin Eddiie says:

    ” I was talking about national budgets Cuz. ”

    Oh, really ? https://www.wsj.com/articles/top-20-of-earners-pay-84-of-income-tax-1428674384

    according to the wall st journal, those rich f*ckers are paying a shit-ton of taxes, i think the video says 84% of all the taxes are paid by the top earners? something like that.

    “Those with wealth or capital can make money on both their labor and their capital. Those with their health only have their labor to earn money.”

    ever heard of a 401K or CALPERS? acorns, robinhood, etrade, etc?

    unless you are living in poverty, the only thing keeping you from transferring some of your labor to capital is your lack of desire to do so.


  11. Notice Cuz that in that interview (article protected with paywall) they never mention the amount of income the top 20% make. They pay 84% of taxes, but they leave the reader to think about how unfair (or progressive against the wealthy) a tax system is that a paltry 20% of the people generate 84% of the revenue.

    I mean seriously! Are the Job Creators expected to pay all of the tax too? What gives. Stoopid liberals!

    Well, in a quick Google I came up with the following: the top 25% pay about 86% of taxes BUT EARN 67% of the income pie. That is critical information that is always missed when conservatives have these discussions (and they have them often). 20% paying 84% of the taxes seems unfair and cruel against Job Creators. 86% of taxes paid when they make 67% of the income doesn’t even seem that progressive, does it? It surely won’t sell any headlines.

    “unless you are living in poverty, the only thing keeping you from transferring some of your labor to capital is your lack of desire to do so.”

    First of all, many, as you know, are living week to week. Secondly, and this makes me sick, when we determine eligibility for Medicaid (old school which now is mainly disabled and elderly), we evaluate property. The max is $2,000 of HH property minus the first home and car. Part of the old, but extant system is therefore to drain people of any limited property before allowing assistance. Who benefits from making sure that the savings of vulnerable people are lowered as much as possible? Thirdly, for those who earn the great majority of their earnings through their years as laborers, the investments you speak of will pay for what a couple to ten years of retirement? That is chump change relative to to not having to work at all based on the interest income alone that you may have been born into.

    I’m not bitter or envious, more power too them. My only point is the system is not set up to be sustainable and we are rushing to an aristocratic system which I believe the founders were hoping to avoid with the governing foundations they created. Sustainability is huge, not only when considering the environment. This is not currently a sustainable economic system and THC’s and Republican ideas and platforms only serve to aggravate the problem.


    Views on Medicaid eligibility are my own and not necessarily those of Humboldt County (my employer) or even President Donald J. Trump.


    • Cousin Eddie says:

      i see the top 1 % are earning 20% of the income and paying 38% of the taxes, nice cherry picking of your data, there. Doesn’t really support your original idea that the wealthy aren’t paying their fair share, does it?

      “Thirdly, for those who earn the great majority of their earnings through their years as laborers, the investments you speak of will pay for what a couple to ten years of retirement?”

      depends on when you start.


  12. So, then, you would like to be the defender of the 1%? Are they the ones that need more representation from government?

    You see the reason that conservatives will never, ever talk about earnings of the top 20% (except those of government workers – see today’s post). The problem is, their earning are very, very high and they are not sustainable.

    Honestly, I was only looking for stats on the 20%, that is why I used the numbers I did, to respond to your point.

    If you wish to talk about the 1% of earners on a blog that tries to be one of right-wing economic populism, I’m happy to do so.

    Let’s start with this. 1% (one of one hundred people) earn 20% (1 of every 5) dollars. Does that sound OK with you, or do you think we need regulations to help this type of capitalism eat itself. Should we just stand by and watch as Jeff Bezos uses market forces to take over an increasingly large slice of the retail sector to include local brick and mortar stores with an increasingly automated infrastructure. Yes, it’s the market, why not just let it do what it does and create an ever-increasing number of losers and an ever increasing smaller portion of extremely wealthy winners?

    And honestly Cuz, it isn’t just a market, the Job Creators not only have economic power, they wish to be in charge of making the rules too. And by the way, they are now, at least in Washington.

    What is the result of a philosophy that says the market can do no wrong and that money is speech? Here it is. If you do wish to focus your political leanings protecting those whose income is in the top 1%, I think the Republican Era of Reaganomics is doing just fine doing that on their own, than, you very much.


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