Bright Futures Made Possible by Prevailing Wage

There’s a way to provide a future for young West Virginians, ensure they have good-paying jobs, and prepare them for the future. It’s called prevailing wage.

Prevailing wage is the minimum hourly wage that contractors working on government-funded infrastructure projects pay local workers. Prevailing wage ensures local workers are paid fairly – based on a regional survey of rates for their particular level of skill and experience.

Local contractors working on West Virginia public, prevailing wage infrastructure projects support high-quality apprenticeship training programs. This makes apprentice training virtually free for students. And apprentices earn a paycheck while learning on the job.

For Job Training West Virginia Needs Prevailing Wage

Kyle Hull, 36, knows the difference a building trades apprenticeship can make.

Now a local construction worker, Hull first embarked on a career in the health care industry.

“I went to college for respiratory therapy and did that for five years before deciding that wasn’t for me,” Hull said.

His experience included attending a college that cost $36,000 per year before switching to a community college – all of which culminated in a job with decent pay and benefits. But he was ready to make a change.

Hull learned about the construction trades from his brother-in-law and already had a rough skillset from growing up on a farm. His apprenticeship allowed him to take those skills to the next level and focus them on the building trades.

To learn more about West Virginia’s Prevailing Wage Movement visit Frequently Asked Questions.

“As an apprentice, I was able to learn on the job and make a paycheck at the same time. Unlike college, I was making money to pay my bills – instead of racking up debt,” he said.

“Without my apprenticeship program, it would have been almost impossible to make a career move. But I was able to go through the training, work close to home, and get paid along the way.”

After Hull completed his apprenticeship, he found work close to home in West Virginia.

“A lot of people go away to college, get a degree and chase a job in that field that might take them away from the region. Graduates are funneled into metro areas, far away from their homes. In construction, you can work close to home. There are construction jobs everywhere,” he said.

And for Hull, construction is a perfect fit.

“When I mentioned I wanted to learn carpentry to my guidance counselor, he said that because I was an honors student, I needed to go to college. They discouraged me from going into the building trades. They never really presented the trades as an option,” he said.

“The job market needs skilled tradesmen right now. Jobs are going unfilled. People in high school need to be informed about what we do, and the life we have, and the benefits of union apprenticeship and a building trades career. Guidance counselors who steer good students away from the trades are doing those students a disservice.”

Hull noted that in his current role, he enjoys excellent insurance benefits, a full retirement plan, and an income greater than his previous career path.

At the hospital, I enjoyed helping people, but I find more satisfaction from building things with my hands and seeing my building projects completed,” he said.

For those like Hull, it’s a win-win. Skilled apprentices become journeymen and masters of their craft. They take pride in the quality of their work and recognize the positive contribution their work has on our state’s economy.

It all leads back to prevailing wage. Prevailing wage supports the partnership between
union contractors and building trade unions and makes apprentice training programs possible for folks like Kyle. West Virginia needs prevailing wage, not only for apprentice training but to create new, good-paying, private-sector jobs that strengthen West Virginia communities.

You can support the prevailing wage movement by signing the petition. Sign your name, share with your friends, and help provide more opportunities for West Virginians.

Find your West Virginia representatives here and reach out to them to let them know you would like them to support Prevailing Wage.