New minimum wage in effect for workers on public works projects

Monday, August 13, 2012

This month, Missouri's latest Prevailing Wage Law went into effect establishing new minimum wage rates that must be paid to workers on public works construction projects, such as bridges, roads and government buildings.

The prevailing wage rate differs by county and for different types of work. The law applies to all public works projects constructed by or on behalf of state and local public bodies.

In Cape Girardeau County, basic hourly prevailing wage rates are as follows:

Carpenter: $22.12

Electrician: $31

Pipe fitters: $34.25

Building laborors: $20.06

Painters: $20.54

Roofers: $21.25

Ironworkers: $23.87

* A measure passed during the 2012 legislative session adds Missouri's utility workers to the protected class of law enforcement and emergency personnel in recognition of the risks that go along with their occupation.

As an amendment to House Bill 1647, utility workers, defined as "any employee while in performance of their job duties, including any person employed under contract, of a utility that provides gas, heat, electricity, water, steam, telecommunications services, or sewer services, whether privately, municipally, or cooperatively owned," were added to the state's protected class. An assault or attempt to injure a utility worker, while in performance of their job duties, will automatically result in specific and heightened criminal penalties.

Just like public safety personnel, utility workers regularly work alongside roads and highways, making them vulnerable to inattentive motorists. Linemen, especially, have been targeted by customers disgruntled when their power is being disconnected for nonpayment. From 2004 to 2007, 4,130 workers were killed during an assault or violent attack, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. "This legislation is an important step to help protect our linemen," said Ron Klein, vice president of operations at Citizens Electric and a former lineman. "They face extraordinary dangers, just in the regular course of their everyday jobs. And that's not to mention the hazards they encounter while working during outages, which are often during severe storms or in the middle of the night."

* Sweet Designs Boutique has opened at 120 Broadway in Cape Girardeau. The store features home décor, gifts, accessories and jewelry. "I focus on quality handmade, local and artist-based lines," said owner Candi Winkler. Winkler has sold hand-painted typography and personalized wood signs online. "With my volume online I outgrew working in my kitchen. I needed a work space. So I decided if I was going to rent a studio, I would also open a retail space, too," she said. Sweet Designs is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

* The Missouri Rural Water Association has released an app to the Android market through the Google Play Store, "Well Drawdown."

The Well Drawdown app is designed for water professionals to enter the pressure readings from the airline installed with the pump to determine their well drawdown and specific capacity. In the present drought conditions, it is important to continually monitor well levels. Several systems have already called for voluntary conservation of water.

The app will also be released for the iPhone immediately upon iTunes' approval. The association is a not-for-profit organization providing services for water and wastewater systems throughout the state, including technical assistance, emergency and disaster preparedness, and continuing education for the specialists who manage and operate these utilities.

Southeast Missourian business editor Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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