GOP lawmakers subpoena prevailing wage documents

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In a highly unusual move, legislative leaders subpoenaed the acting director of WorkForce West Virginia on Tuesday, demanding documents they contend show the state agency relied on data “provided by outside labor interests” to develop a new methodology for recalculating the state’s prevailing wage rates.

But a spokeswoman for the state Department of Commerce said Tuesday the key documents the administration is accused of withholding were actually sent to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance via email in June.

In a letter accompanying the subpoena, Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, and House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, accuse WorkForce West Virginia of failing to provide all “documents and communications” related to the development of the prevailing wage methodology.

In particular, Cole and Armstead contend that the administration withheld a “series of emails” from Lesly Messina, research director for the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, to Jeff Green, director of WorkForce’s research division. Cole and Armstead said the emails criticize using federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data to calculate prevailing wage.

“As Messina is an employee of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, it appears WorkForce West Virginia chose not to provide documents evidencing communications between a private entity clearly attempting to influence the methodology for calculating the prevailing wage,” Cole and Armstead said in the letter to Russell Fry, the agency’s acting director.

In a statement, Cole added, “It’s incredibly troubling to me that this agency has chosen to be less than forthright…

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