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DWD finally speaks up, says wrong thing

By Chris Thompson

Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman said a lot in the 18 minutes she allowed for an interview about the state’s prevailing wage law changes.

Maybe an apology to the construction industry would have come in the 19th or 20th minute.

The apology isn’t necessary for the law. DWD did not instigate the changes to prevailing wage reporting.

The apology isn’t even necessary for DWD’s 50-field spreadsheet interpretation of the law. The agency has, arguably, every right to craft a requirement it believes will lead to the most accurate prevailing wage reporting.

But Gassman had an opportunity Friday to tell the construction industry she is listening. She had a chance to say, “We hear you, and we’re sorry. We thought we did enough to prepare the industry for this. But, judging from the industrywide response, we were wrong.”

Such an apology would have opened the doors — not to changing the law, but to stepping back from a requirement that is causing so much strife and from a public stance of blaming builders.

Such an apology would have begun to restore trust.

But in steadfastly defending every DWD action between June and the Jan. 1 start date for the law, Gassman implicitly blamed the industry for the mess that is sitting on her doorstep.

Compared with the hours and days contractors are spending getting their heads around a law they were ill-prepared to handle, a simple “I’m sorry” would have taken no time at all.

Chris Thompson is the editor at The Daily Reporter. He apologizes for filing this blog after deadline. See, that was easy.


  1. “State Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, said she has not heard a single report of trouble with the new law.”

    Is that a sick joke, or is she just that out of touch with her constituents? Every single contractor is complaining about this. It does nothing but increase the cost to tax payers for public jobs. It does not create new workers, besides adding auditors to the state. The new requirements for reporting will kill any chance a small business has at doing any sort of work with the state. You basically need an accounting degree to fill these forms out. The democrats need to take a long hard look at what they stand for. This bill helps big contractors and kills small business. This is a terrible bill, at a terrible time. A simple laborer will now be paid over $42.50 an hour! No wonder why the state is going broke.

  2. Matt, your mentality is the exact reason for this type of legislation. It’s obvious you are against the middle class with a statement like simple laborer. the current prevailing wage for a construction craft laborer is 23.54 in the madison area and 35.94 with health and pension benefits. These wages are determined by all area contractors that are required to submit their wages to this survey. I supose you would prefer contractors not be required to provide fringes. So your roads are built cheaper but then when your insurance premiums rise because you support a policy that floods your hospitals with people with jobs but no health insurance. These wages are already being paid by area companies, or should i say responsible ones. Why are you defending compaies that aren’t. Oh wait it’s obviouslly a smear campaign aginst a Democrat and once again the middle class has to suffer because of it

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