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Americans for Prosperity’s sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, filed a public comment on May 17 with the Institute for the American Worker (i4AW) in opposition to a U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) proposed rule to modify how Davis-Bacon prevailing wages are calculated and which workers the federal requirements apply to.
The Davis-Bacon Act specifically establishes prevailing wages for projects that utilize federal funding. Prevailing wages in government construction projects are the average wages earned by workers in a particular area, as determined by federal, state, and local governments—through established survey methods.
Prevailing wage laws require governments to pay workers performing government construction projects the pre-determined wages regardless of what rates contractors would be willing to accept.
More specifically, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 and related federal acts require “that contractors and subcontractors performing on covered contracts pay laborers and mechanics employed on the project jobsite not less than the prevailing wage rates (including fringe benefits) listed in the contract’s Davis-Bacon wage determination for corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics.”
Today’s Davis-Bacon requirements are already problematic — driving up overall federal infrastructure costs as high as 10 percent and wages over 20 percent — on top of shifting more work to union over non-union workers despite the fact that over 86 percent of construction workers are not members of a union.
This is particularly problematic as Americans are already paying over $5,200 extra per year amidst rising inflation and construction costs that saw the largest year-over-year construction cost rise in more than 50 years – over 17.5 percent from 2020 to 2021 alone.
Unfortunately, AFPF and I4AW note that the new USDOL rule will make Davis-Bacon prevailing wages even more harmful because:
The window for public comments closed on May 17, 2022, and now the USDOL has the option to publish the rule as is, modify, or rescind it.