Make your home page

Indiana port commissioner quits over common wage law flap

(WISH File Photo)

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) – A Republican member of the Indiana Ports Commission says he’s resigning in protest of Gov. Mike Pence’s support for a GOP-backed effort to repeal the law that sets wages for public construction projects.

Commissioner David Fagan of Portage submitted his resignation effective April 30 in a letter to Pence on Friday.

“In light of your public support for the repeal of Indiana’s Common Construction Wage, I can no longer in good conscience be associated with your administration,” wrote Fagan, who founded a group called the Lunch Pail Republicans that encouraged the GOP to be both pro-business and pro-labor.

The proposal that passed the House in February would eliminate the 80-year-old Common Construction Wage Law along with the local boards that set construction wages for state or local projects that cost more than $350,000. The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee is scheduled to take up the bill Tuesday.

A message seeking comment was sent Monday to a spokeswoman for Pence. Pence has been among supporters of the repeal who say it would save tens of millions of tax dollars each year on public construction projects by allowing more contractors to pay wages below union scale.

Opponents argue the change would hurt many Indiana-based companies by opening the door for low-paying, out-of-state contractors to underbid projects.

“By repealing common construction wage, you will slash wages for Indiana workers, cripple Indiana contractors, starve small businesses and reduce our state’s tax revenue,” Fagan wrote in his letter.

Fagan is the financial secretary of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which represents heavy equipment operators who operate and repair equipment in construction, quarries, landfills and other industries.

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels first appointed Fagan to the seven-member Ports Commission in 2007 and reappointed him in 2011. The commission oversees Indiana’s three ports on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River.