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Letter: Prevailing wage helps middle class

A construction worker works on the site of

A construction worker works on the site of the SoMa at Brickell apartment building in downtown Miami on May 16, 2014. Credit: AP

Prevailing wage was a very good idea when it was created ["LI debris cleanup," News, June 14]. The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was a reaction to the undercutting of middle class wages in the construction industry in Northern states. It basically stated that the federal government would not take part in destroying the middle class.

Poor Southern blacks were migrating North. Desperate for work, they were willing to settle for lower wages. Contractors would hire them, undercutting the wages in the area.

So prevailing wage does not benefit the immigrant workers in the country illegally; it protects the wages of American workers, including your Long Island neighbors. Forcing contractors to pay the wage prevailing in an area, which is not necessarily the union wage, stops a race to the bottom that is destroying the middle class.

In 1931, the American people understood that they were being screwed by robber barrons who had accumulated the majority of the nation's wealth. Newspapers ran cartoons similar to Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly character. They understood that income inequality had reached unsustainable levels.

The robber barrons are back. They own both major political parties. President Barack Obama and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo are not socialists; they are fully owned subsidiaries of Wall Street. The Republicans are worse. They are unrepentant representatives not of the 1 percent, but the one-tenth of 1 percent.

Joel Herman, Melville