comments on draft Davis-Bacon law show expected split between unions and construction companies | Fox Rothschild LLP

There was an initiative to revise the Davis Bacon Act (“DBA”) regulations and I have been following this closely as the DBA (and current salaried work) has always been of particular interest to me. Well, the process is in full swing as the US Department of Labor has received over 37,000 comments on a proposed rule. Commentators believe it would be the biggest change to the Davis-Bacon Act since President Ronald Reagan took office.

A big part of the rule change would be to change how prevailing wages are calculated and determined in a specific region (i.e. a county). This is usually done through salary surveys. Critics of the proposal say unions will have an exaggerated role in determining wage rates for a particular geographic area (eg, counties). These critics, Congressional Republicans, say “we are disappointed that the Department has not considered other methods to improve the accuracy of its data, including calculating wage rates using Bureau data.” of Labor Statistics (BLS). The proposed rule instead reverts to a decades-old definition of prevailing wage to reward the administration’s Big Labor allies.

The DOL’s plan would be to re-use the so-called 30% rule, which examines the wages earned by one-third of the county’s workers if the designated protocol, using a 50% measuring rod, does not provide good data. They claim that “lowering the threshold of what is considered prevailing unless there is a majority of answers is nonsense and is clearly intended to facilitate the predominance of union wage rates, since collective agreements often set a uniform wage for all a group of workers. .”

Predictably, construction unions applauded the proposed changes. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America says the new rules solve many of the problems created by the splintering of the construction industry. The Union points out that the proposal strengthens the law by holding general contractors liable since the agency could go against the Company or its shareholders. Promoters also applaud rules specifying that anyone working on a project, even if considered an “independent contractor”, is entitled to the prevailing salary. The union states that “while this does not address the endemic and growing abuses of construction workers, it nevertheless establishes an important principle on federal and federally subsidized construction projects.”

The Center for American Progress Action Fund, a supporter of the new regulations, says the new regulations are needed to restore the balance for workers that was changed when the Reagan DOL eliminated the 30% threshold and ruled that a rate “prevailed” only if 50% of the workers in a given county received that wage. The organization wrote that “The Center for American Progress Action Fund has long supported a return to the 30% standard as it will help ensure that DBA rates reflect actual wage rates paid in local markets.”

Takeaway meals

These new changes come at an opportune time for workers on federally funded construction projects and construction unions. Several million dollars will be invested in projects under the Infrastructure Investment and Job Creation Act. I can understand the initiative to prevent bad contractors from undermining legitimate contractors by paying less than the going wage. Maybe the playground should be leveled.

I believed that it was…

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