Las Vegas Sun

October 27, 2021

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Lawmakers to determine if Tesla must pay prevailing wages

CARSON CITY — Gov Brian Sandoval has kept quiet about whether Tesla is a public project, given its proposed $1.2 billion in tax credits and abatements.

That’s one of the issues a special session of the Legislature will be confronted with when it convenes today.

The decision will determine whether Tesla will have to pay prevailing wages to construction workers on the project.

The law says that on a public job, contractors must pay a certain wage to workers, depending on the location. Tesla has said there will be 3,000 workers during construction at the site in Storey County.

In Storey County, the state labor commissioner has set the prevailing wage at $59.30 an hour for an iron worker journeyman, $45.20 an hour for a plumber-pipe fitter and $28.70 an hour for a flag person. These are just a few examples of the prevailing wages.

The labor commissioner sets the prevailing wage every year in each of Nevada’s 17 counties.

If Tesla is not considered a public project, contractors can set lower wages in bidding for the work.

Danny Thomas, executive director of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, called the Tesla project a “good deal for Nevada.” But he wants to make sure Nevadans are hired for the work.

Given the $1.2 billion in proposed tax breaks, construction of the Tesla factory should be considered a public project, Thomas said.

Legislators have yet to see the full details of the plan. Tesla has said one priority will be to hire Nevadans and veterans.

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